I Didn’t Make It Up, It Was Just Prefactual

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I didn't make it up, it was just prefactual

A wonderful new phrase, at least new to me, this way comes from the comment pages of the FT.

Science writer Anjana Ahuja, in a column headed The dangers of lying to ourselves about the future, introduces us to Prefactual Thinking.

What this seems to mean is, because I think my business is going to be worth $1 billion in a few years time, if I tell you it is already worth that, I’m not lying.

I may be an overconfident, unabashed headcase with less concern for other people than Sweeney Todd, but because what I think I said is true, you have to let me off.

People often do, says Ahuja.

She quotes an expert: “Research shows that people think it’s not so bad to lie about having a skill they might have in the future.”

This is good, since I am an Olympic level skateboarding Queen.

The slight trouble is that people tend to overestimate how quickly they will acquire new skills and how likely it is that they are poised to make a billion quid.

No, not all of them are MPs.

Elizabeth Holmes of US blood test fraud Theranos was a noted prefactual thinker.

Sometimes, we go along with Prefactuals if we agree with the sentiment.

You think there are too many gun deaths in the US, so you don’t challenge it when I say there are 500 a day (it is more like 125).

In some ways, large companies use prefactuals all the time, when forecasting what profits they might make next year and the year after.

When they miss these targets, we call it a profit warning, but perhaps they just over promised. They didn’t understand their own business, their own industry, or the wider world anything like as much as they claimed to.

On an individual basis, I look forward to flaks defending CEOs using this excellent device.

It is not that my client was making s**t up. He was merely engaged in prefactual thinking.

Have a nice weekend.


Press release of the day

What’s the average billionaire like? Well, according to this from time2play he — there are only six She billionaires — is 65. He doesn’t wear glasses. He studied at Harvard University.

The cities that have produced most billionaires are Hangzhou, Detroit, Newport and Paris.

Your best chance to become a billionaire is to be born in October.

The link sends you to a page that is in German, sadly

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Indian billionaire plans bid for Boots. BBC

2) UK launches post-Brexit shake-up of insurance rules. FT

3) Personal insolvencies jump.Sky News 

4) Russia fossil fuel revenues double. Guardian


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