Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, Attrition and Employee Engagement

HR departments in order to establish their importance in organisation use employer branding. The employer branding is often in form of organisation featuring in list of “Best Places to Work”. Normally winner is organisation which shows high engagement scores and low employee attrition rate.

Organisations collect data on all activities related to employee engagement and try to correlate it with attrition rate. Some pattern emerges, if it shows that increase in engagement activities and high scores in engagement survey correlate with decrease in attrition then HR department’s job is done.


Problem is this correlation could be by chance and not real. It may be that HR has taken only that data which suits them. Interviews with randomly selected employees may show different picture.

This is also as Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. A Texan fires some gunshots at the side of a barn. Shooting is random. Once shooting is over, he then paints a target centred on the biggest cluster of hits and claims to be a sharpshooter.


This fallacy occurs when person cherry-picks a data cluster to suit his argument, or finds a pattern to fit a presumption.


Some correlations can be hilarious ex. there was high correlation (r= .9523) between Maths doctorates awarded in US with Uranium stored at US nuclear power plants!




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