The Irish Minister for Health is claiming that Irish hospital consultants are paid well above average compared to their international equivalents. Meanwhile the consultants say that the high salaries are necessary so as to continue to attract the high calibre people to the profession. The Minister’s perspective suggests that consultant’s salaries could be cut – and indeed this is what he plans for new consultants. The consultants’ perspective may also be legitimate.
This theme of data interpretation came up in a recent post. In that case the data was actually agreed upon – the bone of contention was solely in how the data was being interpreted differently by different parties – both of which were vested interests. Obviously achieving accuracy and fairness is a challenge.
However it’s no good being able and willing to interpret data fairly and accurately if the data itself cannot be properly gathered. In Ireland recently banks have been claiming that they are lending to businesses while businesses claim that the lending taps remains firmly turned off. What does the data say? Where is the truth?
The gathering of data and the correct interpretation of results are both links in a chain – a chain that must be complete for a valid result.
Researchers obviously need to be ethical and competent. But if you are commissioning research you also need to be honest with yourself, for example in asking legitimate questions whose answers you know you might not like. And let the results speak for themselves. Keep that wool out of your own eyes! Otherwise you’re fooling yourself – and can any good come from that?