March Madness and bogus stats about worker productivity.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
March 19 2009 6:50 AM

Productivity Madness

What's that crazy stat about the NCAA Tournament and distracted workers?

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Addendum, March 21, 9:30 a.m.: Carl Bialik, "The Numbers Guy" columnist at the Wall Street Journal, beat me to the Challenger story earlier this month, nailing the consultant. Bialik's 2005 column  ridiculed the "consultant" for  estimating the productivity loss from the 2005 NCAA tournament at $889 million. A $3 billion increase in one year? Get out of here! Bialik also whacked Challenger for his 2005 estimate that Super Bowl water-cooler talk would cost $1.06 billion. While we're giving out credit, let's also salute  Hannah Clark of Forbes, who took Challenger down earlier this month.  

Addendum, March 22, 11:30 a.m.: Salon's King Kaufman blew the whistle on Challenger last year and again this year. Josh Hendrickson got a piece of the action, too.


When the Western Michigan University Broncos get knocked out of the tournament—which usually comes in December—I lose all interest in the NCAA. Share your hoop dreams and nightmares and screwing-off-while-at-work techniques via e-mail: (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at