The ripple effect is when one small inciting event has ramifications that expand far beyond, like a pebble thrown in a pond. The pebble may be small, but the rings that radiate from the initial splash keep growing. In today’s world, bad data is the pebble, and history has shown the large, looming, fatal consequences that misinformation can cause. Wars have been fought, companies have gone bankrupt, and entire civilizations have disappeared as a result of bad information. Check out the infographic below to see a snapshot of how the exchange of bad data and bad information has shaped who we are as a society.
Bad data hopefully has minimal effect on an outcome, however more often than not, a tiny overlooked detail can cause millions of dollars in wasted resources, time, and manpower. For example, in 1999, NASA lost billions of dollars in time, research, and equipment when the Mars Orbiter was lost in space. It was later determined that the manufacturers of the orbiter—Lockheed Martin—used English units of measurements when NASA scientists were using the conventional metric system. The mismatched measurements went undetected throughout the entire process and led to massive project failure.