Has it ever occurred to you that you could be headed to a bizarre and macabre death caused by getting tangled in your bedsheets, and that controlling our collective cheese consumption could be the thing that saves you from that fate? Per capita cheese consumption correlates with the number of people who died by getting tangled in their bedsheets.
But that’s not really a thing. It’s a spurious correlation – factors whose variation makes it appear that they’re related to each other, even though they’re not. And it highlights why being able to get a number or plot a graph might not be giving you the business insight you think it is.
This might sound like something that just needs better math to sort out, but really, this problem is rooted in the very nature of data, and complicated by the very human nature of decision-making.