Graeme Newell

Sampling Bias

When we’re gathering data to make an important choice, we rarely have the gumption to do a thorough search that uncovers contrary options. Instead, we typically collect facts from familiar publications, talk to friends, and consult coworkers. The result is often the same kind of thinking and the same outcomes that got us stuck in the first place.

The most powerful choices are ones that plumb the depths to accurately assemble a broad sample that accurately represents ALL the options…especially unfamiliar ones.

How can you beat sampling bias and make better choices?

-Physically count the number of outside voices in your sample. Are you polling only friends, family and colleagues? Time to get some strangers involved.

-Invite a disinterested party to audit the thoroughness of your information pool. Seek brutally honest feedback on the representativeness of the data you’ve collected.

-Consciously calculate who is LEAST likely to voice an opinion and who is MOST likely to speak up. You need to put some real effort into recruiting the former.

-Start your data collection efforts with people OUTSIDE your comfort zone. Too many people talk to friends and make an early decision. Then, they spend the rest of the time seeking confirmation for what they already want to do.