Do the Facts Really Matter?

Beth Snider December 21, 2012 Categories // Winter 2012-2013

How do you determine what is "fair"?

I grew up in a time when not everyone got a trophy, grades were not assigned on a sliding scale, and no one bailed out businesses who couldn't figure out how to stay in business. That makes me sound really old, but I'm under 50. Two pieces of fresh news today lead me to believe that facts are becoming less and less important.

First, I had to shake my head at a Business Insider "news" story that totally missed reporting on the new Google Conversion API because they were too busy complaining about the way that DoublClick (who apparently uses Google Analytics as a driver for their highly annoying advertising campaign software) announced their use of the Conversion API. When I read the statement, it was very clear to me and their meaning was evident. However, I know what Google Conversion Goals are and I know what an API is. It is possible that I had an unfair advantage while reading the message and was biased toward understanding what was meant.

I had to have a conversation with myself the other day because my skimming through an email message left me with the wrong understanding of one of our client's correspondence. If I had responded with what I THOUGHT i had read, rather than what they actually wrote....well, I would not be having as happy a holiday. 

So, on one hand, it may not be that people are ignoring the facts, but that they just don't understand them, or are too busy to fully read them!

Next, on BBC World News (which I say, "I will never watch again," every time I watch it), a story was presented in which the Europeans have now made it illegal for insurance companies to determine a rate based upon gender. This is really bad news for young female drivers, who had been enjoying a 38% discount over their male counterparts; and females in general, who will now pay 30% higher life insurance premiums. A court ruling now requires that the "cost" of these insurance products be spread equally across both sexes.

Just after college, before I knew that computers would be the staple of my career, I spent a short stint considering the field of actuarial sciences. An actuary evaluates risk and uses statistical evidence to form their opinions regarding risk. Yes, they are "opinions", since no one can predict the future, but actuaries perform more statistical analysis before lunch in one day than most of us will do in a lifetime, so their opinions are based upon facts. Actuaries are effectively the ones who decide how much your insurance premiums are...based upon statistics about all facets of you and your of which, of course, is your gender.

So, does a court decision change the fact that statistically, young male drivers cause more accidents than any other gender and age group? That they typically live shorter lives and die more frequently of heart attacks? And, should insurance companies be able to use these facts to assign higher costs to those who result in more claims? More importantly in my mind: if they don't use these facts, how will they assign premium costs?

It seems to me that everyone's getting a trophy here, no matter how they performed; that in an effort to be "fair", we are, indeed, going the way of "unjust" or false, or just plain ignoring the facts and historical evidence. I like to be fair, but I believe that being just is equally if not more important.

We hope you won't fall into this trap about your web site, because your business actually depends upon it! So, until some ridiculous law is passed preventing you from doing so, we encourage you to review the statistics captured by Google Analytics to determine the facts about your site. It should guide your decisions about your site...where to improve and invest...based upon real, live facts! If you need help with Google Anlaytics, please contact us, and we'll give you "just the facts, ma'am."



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