Quotes not originally about Data Quality

Yesterday I was looking for some quotations for a data quality presentation.

I stumbled upon these ones by Niels Bohr:

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field

I found that this quote is most often used this way:

“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field”.

I am pretty sure Bohr said person – not man. There are just as many female experts as male experts around.

And indeed: Learning from mistakes is the path to expertise in data quality.

There are two sorts of truth: Trivialities, where opposites are obviously absurd and profound truths, recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth

Bohr was into quantum mechanics. I think data quality is very much like quantum mechanics. Sometimes there is a simple single version of the truth; sometimes there are several great versions of a complex truth.

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it

Anyone who is not shocked by the actual quality of data has probably not measured it (yet).

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5 thoughts on “Quotes not originally about Data Quality

  1. Jim Harris 4th May 2011 / 13:49

    Great post, Henrik.

    Here are a few additional quotes by Niels Bohr, which also were not originally about data quality.

    “Some subjects are so serious that one can only joke about them.”

    — That quote explains not only the way I blog and speak about data quality, but perhaps also the data quality marketing messages provided by most vendors.

    “We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.”

    — That quote is the immediate response given by most organizations when confronted with the theory that poor data quality is negatively affecting their business activities.

    “Oh, what idiots we all have been. This is just as it must be.”

    — And that quote is the eventual acceptance by an organization when they realize that data quality requires a sustained program and not just an occasional data cleansing project.


    Best Regards,


    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 4th May 2011 / 15:26

      Thanks a lot Jim, now I have a pretty good collection of Bohr quotes to choose from.

  2. Chris Simpson 3rd July 2012 / 12:06

    Hi all,

    I too have to create a presentation on Data Quality to present to all areas of the business including the board. I am very inexperienced with regards to data quality and could do with some pointers on what to demonstrate to the business so as to give them a brief and simple overview of what data quality can do to drive the business forward. We currently have no data governance and a data quality team consisting of me and one other person, so I am keen to start promoting the importance of data quality and I may only get one shot at convincing people that this should be the way forward. Any help, advice or information would be greatly received.

  3. David Mead 3rd July 2012 / 12:56

    Hi Chris,

    When we present we tend to stick to the pain points for the business. It is essential for any Data Quality policy to get the board buy in. I have found focussing on the improvements in customer service, risk to brand if not implemented and also compliance and governance factors that board members are legally liable for. The key factor is auditing in the first place to draw a line in the sand to understand where you are. Just going to the board and saying we need to create a policy is not enough. There are many ways to do this with either in house tools or external organisations to audit your data and processes. Any presentation of course needs to be tailored to the sector your business is in as there are different drivers for areas such as insurance as there are to retailers. But go in with facts with the current state of the data, include the risk of not putting a policy in place and cost not only the project to correct issues and keep them in check but also the cost if it is not implemented. There are a number of white papers on the Capscan website ( http://www.capscan.com), than can give you some pointers and I have a couple of presentations that might help if you want to get in touch.

    • Chris Simpson 3rd July 2012 / 13:17

      Hi David,

      many thanks for your advice. This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. The company is already using Capscan and have recently purchased Trillium. I will be using the latter to help baseline the state of our data and this will be the “facts” that I intend to present to the board. Any presentations that you have would be great thanks. If you need to email them to me my address is csimpson@astonmartin.com

      thanks once again.

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