retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The story is a reminder that no matter how definitive something seems, there always is a possibility that something else is true.

That is at least one of the lessons when the news came last week that Lou Gehrig may not have actually have died of the disease that is named after him.

Go figure.

It goes like this. A group of neurologists is suggesting that Gehrig, the New York Yankee first baseman who died in 1941 from what was then thought to be amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), may actually have died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repetitive concussions or other head injuries. The study does not name Gehrig specifically, nor does it draw conclusions about his fatal illness; the researchers say that at this point, it is something of an “intellectual game” to consider the possibility that something so firmly engraved on the public sensibility may not be true.

To be fair, though, the research itself is far more than just a game. The issue of concussions - in sports like football, baseball, soccer and others - has been taken more or less seriously over the years, but now there are reports that Gehrig suffered a number of head injuries during a career in which he famously never took a day off. At the very least, this new study seems to be ramping up the level of attention, and perhaps will create new and more stringent protocols for dealing with concussions.

And all because we’re suddenly finding out that something we assumed was true may not have been.

We all have firm beliefs in our business lives. In the numbers, in logistics, in how we view consumer behavior or employee attitudes. Some refer to them as “the fundamentals.”

But those firm beliefs may in fact not be entirely true.

The lesson? Question every statement. Challenge every assumption. The truth is out there, as they used to say on The X Files, but it may not be where and what we think it is.

Go figure.

That’s my Eye-Opener for Monday morning.

- Kevin Coupe
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