The No In Knowledge.
Some people suggest that it's taken the freedom of information encapsulated in the internet to undermine advertising's effectiveness. Others feel that this just coincided with a general disenchantment with hyperbole. Either way, I welcome a dose of sceptisicsm.
As a great piece in the McKinsey Quarterly recently said
Our business world is full of research and analysis that are comforting to managers: that success can be yours by following a formula, that specific actions will lead to predictable outcomes, and that greatness can be achieved no matter what rivals do. The truth is very different: the business world is not a place of clear causal relationships, where a given set of actions leads to predictable results, but one that is more tenuous and uncertain.
Good decision making is about knowing what questions to ask and questioning is inherently challenging (or negative, depending on your point of view). But it should not be ducked, because the other way lies the tyranny of the yes man culture. Reality checks are essential and their great benefit is that the sooner they come, the less painful they are.
When that's not learned on a cultural level, it's arguable that the outcome is even more costly. The parallels with bad marketing are obvious.