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An Uncomfortable Encounter »


Spreadsheets are awesome at letting you play with numbers. Put all sorts of values in and get back a number that is supposed to tell you the answer.

I recently had a play with a sheet that made a projection. Lots of different values were required. Lots of different equations were used. And one number, a date over 20 years in the future, was spat out at the end. It was very seductive, a precise date stating when something will occur.

Now even if I assume that all my equations were correct (which in this case is a big assumption), there is still the uncertainties of all the future values. A very small change can cause very big changes in results.The number that was spat out is my best guess, but the uncertainties are so high, I may as well have not bothered.

The one thing I am certain of is that the predicted event will not actually happen on that day.

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