Facts, Opinions, Guesses, and Assumptions

I was going to write an article about the importance of distinguishing between facts, opinions, guesses, and assumptions, but I stopped to look up a quote, and got distracted.  I spent the next two hours mining for interesting, related comments from well-known people who weren’t exactly project managers, but knew a thing or two.  So I’ll share what I found, and let you contemplate Mark Twain’s observation, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

“Facts are stubborn things.” – John Adams

“There’s a world of difference between truth and facts.  Facts can obscure the truth.” – Maya Angelou

“Euclid taught me that without assumptions there is no proof. Therefore, in any argument, examine the assumptions.” – E.T. Bell

“Most of our assumptions have outlived their usefulness.” – Marshall McLuhan

“In a start-up company, you basically throw out all assumptions every three weeks.” – William Lyon Phelps

“Make three correct guesses consecutively, and you will establish a reputation as an expert.” – Lawrence J. Peter

“A great many people mistake opinions for thought.” – Herbert V. Prochnow

“Most people when they come to you for advice, come to have their own opinions strengthened, not corrected.” – Josh Billings

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About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources (GPHR and SPHR) and in benefits administration (CEBS). In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.