Stalin Is My Soulmate

V. Czechut writes: “I am wondering if you can clarify a point you made in today’s email.  {Note from Amy: she’s referring to this blog post which she gets via email, not RSS.}  You said that ‘most folks can’t look at data objectively.’ What does that mean?  I ask because we just spent $80K+ with a web analytics consultant who gave us lots of fancy reports but confused us far more than he helped us.  My VP thought it was a waste and won’t give me any more money for training or help and now I have to sort through it on my own.  How do I look at things objectively?”

Hi V.  (I’m always so suspicious of you one initial people):

I’m sure I will get hundreds of missile-mails for this comment but here goes:

My friend Brian (the one who thinks crazy women are better in bed) finds me to be incredibly judgmental of, well, just about everything.  To prove his point, he sends me a never-ending stream of quizzes like the following:

Here are the facts about three candidates:

Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians and consults with astrologers.  He’s had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B: He was kicked out of office twice.  Sleeps until noon.  Used opium in college and drinks a quart of whisky every evening.

Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero.  He is a vegetarian.  Doesn’t smoke.  Drinks an occasional beer.  He has never committed adultery.

Which of these candidates would be your first choice?

Decide first and then scroll down for the response.  Then come back.  I will wait.

Now here’s the thing…

These type of quizzes, as corny and ill-conceived as they may be, are very similar to what happens with web analytics.  (Not for every company but for many companies.)

They look at the data and pick choice C – and then when they find out what choice C is/means, they immediately say “Oh, that can’t be right, Choice B (or whatever) was my choice and this is what we are going to do about it.”

I’ve been doing this web stuff long enough that I can justify or rationalize pretty much anything I see in someone’s web analytics.  That is NOT a good thing.

The key to making solid business decisions when it comes to the web is to look at the information that’s presented to you, WITHOUT bias, and then work from there. 

Yes, you can readjust your thinking – and there’s merit to being able to do that – but if the issue(s) is/are evident/apparent, don’t discount it/them because of your personal bias.

Stalin is my soulmate and Mussolini is the guy I will most likely marry.

I don’t even want to tell you what I do with Gandhi.



Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt

Candidate B is Winston Churchill

Candidate C is Adolf Hitler.


  1. Mike McCormick says

    The quiz was about trivialities in another time.

    Churchill drank champagne more often than he drank whisky – about 20,000 bottles of the stuff. Indeed, he did smoke like a chimney. Poor bugger. He lived to be just 90.

    He drank Scotch so it was whisky, no e.

    Not only did Hitler never commit adultery, it’s likely that he never got laid which would explain a lot.

    • says

      The quiz is ridiculous but it was the only G-rated one I had. This blog is family friendly, you know.

      P.S. I made the whisky change. I know jack about Scotch unless it’s tape.

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