Ignore Factual Impossibilities!

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This past Friday's Wall Street Journal had a brilliant opinion piece on "Workplace Wellness" programs. Ignore for a moment (or forever, if you prefer) the opinion on whether or not Workplace Wellness programs actually, well, work. My real enjoyment in this piece comes from the absurd statistics pointed out in various Workplace Wellness studies. For the full list, see the article, but some entertaining highlights:

  • US Corporate Wellness participants are "230% less likely" to use an extended-illness benefit. 230%?!? So if beforehand 1 out of 10 needed the extended illness benefit, now -1.3 out of 10 employees use it? How exactly do you get a negative employee?
  • Interactive Health apparently only improves the health of 5% of participants, but for those 5%, the average saving is $54,000 out of an average corporate medical spending of $6,000 spent annually. So... a company spends $6,000, then another $1,000 on wellness program, and somehow an extra $47,000 magically appears in the corporate treasury? I need to find that program for my business! Actually, I think Bernie Madoff already invented one...

This is even better than the famous study in the 90s that showed (and politicians bemoaned) that 50% of children are reading at or below average reading level. Well, of course they are! Don't politicians know what the meaning of "average" is? Perhaps that should be a rhetorical question?

Corporations, and politicians, and anyone with an interest (which is everyone) and lacking in intellectual honesty will often fudge numbers, or perhaps highlight the facts that play to their own interests. It usually makes sense to at least attempt to have some intelligence in doing so to make it less obvious. But that does require intelligence and education.

On the upside, it is free entertainment for the rest of us.