Facts Versus Opinions: The Never-Ending Debate

, , , , , | Working | January 30, 2018

(I work in a vaccine development company making viral vaccines. We usually write quantities of viruses in “log ten” units because the numbers are huge, e.g. six logs is a million. My colleague in charge of the process development team is giving a report. I’m in the assay development team, and she doesn’t get along with any of us.)

Colleague: “You can see that the total amount of virus in this run was twelve logs in the raw harvest and went down to nine logs in the purified batch. So, it’s only a twenty-five percent loss, which I think is pretty good.”

(Twelve logs is a trillion and nine logs is a billion.)

Me: “You can’t calculate percentages on log values. That’s not correct.”

Colleague: “How can you say it’s not correct? Twelve minus nine is twenty-five percent loss.”

Me: “You can’t do it like that. You have to convert to linear [regular numbers] first.”

Colleague: “This is my data! I can choose how I want to present it! You have to respect my opinion!”

(We end up arguing over secondary school maths for about five minutes before the boss, annoyed, stands up and points at the slide.)

Boss: “That is not a 25% loss. That is a 99.9% loss.”

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