Of all the quotes in the infinitely quotable movie “The Princess Bride,” (“Have fun storming the castle!” “As you wish,” “Never get involved in a land war in Asia!”), one always stood out for me:
Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
If I’ve encountered one problem more than any other in marketing data, I’d call it the Inigo Montoya problem: the dangers of using misleading data.
Photo courtesy of, let’s see here, The Daily News. Huh.
The problem seems so widespread–and so dangerous–that I’ll address it over two columns:
- How misleading data occur
- How to prevent or work around bad data
In theory, bad data shouldn’t exist. Of course, as Homer Simpson noted, “In theory, Communism works. In theory.” How do bad data arise?