The recent issue with the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) poll and Cave Hill Associates Polling Organisation (CHAPO) poll is instructive for professionals and their Clients. The CHAPO poll was popular, supportive of the then ruling political party, apparently backed by the University of the West Indies, and wrong. The CADRES poll was unpopular among the then ruling political party, the pollster vilified, but the poll was accurate.
The CHAPO poll was wrong because it was based on a critical assumption which was not verified before the advice was given. Rather than seek to subsequently verify this assumption, especially with knowledge of the CADRES poll’s stated assumptions, the CHAPO pollsters spent the time defending their poll.
All professional advice is based upon the interpretation of evidence. Each professional is trained to examine evidence related to their professional discipline. When interpreting evidence, professionals make various assumptions, which may or may not be correct. Conscientious professionals normally take the time necessary to identify and verify each of their assumptions.
Sometimes a client may request that advice be provided urgently, before the professional has verified the assumptions made. In such cases, preliminary advice is normally given, and the assumptions are subsequently checked. If the assumptions are found to be incorrect, then the advice is withdrawn. If the Client has acted upon the poor advice, then new advice is given in order to, inter alia, mitigate any consequential damage.
Pride should never prevent a professional from withdrawing and revising previous advice when it is found to be unsupported by the evidence. Since professionals are liable for any quantifiable damage arising out of the advice that they give, it is imperative that all professionals be conscientious.