Will Thalheimer – Uber-Debunker

I’ve seen it – you’ve probably seen it – it has been part of webinars, conferences and even internal team meetings, I bet.


People do NOT remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, 30% of what they hear, etc. That information, and similar pronouncements are fraudulent. Moreover, general statements on the effectiveness of learning methods are not credible—learning results depend on too many variables to enable such precision. Unfortunately, this bogus information has been floating around our field for decades

And this information – wrapped up in slightly different packages can be found all over the place … including the latest sighting by Will here.

Here’s the thing for me …. this is a BIG DEAL!

If we are trotting out these data as some means to bolster our expertise … our credibility being on the line … then, although our intentions may be good, we are putting ourselves into a terrible place. These data are bogus … so we lose credibility.

And where does that leave us when we want to advocate the use of newer technologies or combinations of technologies? Big-time uphill battles!

So, stop citing this stuff … and please please please tell colleagues to stop as well.


About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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2 Responses to Will Thalheimer – Uber-Debunker

  1. Tom Turner says:

    I was never one to rely on ‘statistics’ or ‘data’ to teach in my classroom. I always felt that if I kept to what I did best, using the technology at my disposal as a resource, as an instructional tool, I knew that I would be able to differentiate instruction to all learning styles. That is why I chuckle to myself when I listen to all this hype about ‘data driven education’. Especially when my method continued to show success in my classroom, in the form of student success and retention of knowledge.

  2. Rory says:

    Hey Tom … thanks for taking the time to comment. I hear you loud and clear about keeping to what we do best. That’s really all that can be asked of us in the long run.

    I’ve not heard the phrase ‘data driven education’ but I have heard things like “evidence based instruction” and “data informed designs,” which sound perilously close. I’ve been coming to the conclusion that as much as data and evidence may be useful in making a case, so much of learning involves a degree of unquantifiable stuff – like emotions, readiness, receptiveness, and the like.

    What irks me greatly (like Mr. Thalheimer) is this regurgitated data about how people learn best … and this thing is bogus.

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