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SIOP runs bad data and fake news


Shaker runners, left to right: Lauren Borden, Tyler Slezak, Matt Sloan, Daly Vaughn, Jill Floyd, Marc Wenzel, Noelle Frantz

The 25th Annual Frank Landy 5K Fun Run was recently held at Walt Disney World during the 32nd Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. A team of nimble Shaker runners readied their hearts and hamstrings for a performance they hoped would be worthy of the Magic Kingdom.

Florida’s climate shows no mercy even to the lion-hearted, so the weather was characteristically oppressive—not ideal for speed, and a potential liability for those accustomed to a more temperate climate (such as our Ohio-based Shaker athletes). Still, a spirited field of runners gathered and jockeyed for position at the starting line. They were called to their marks. The starting pistol sounded. Off they went.

Runners began crossing the finish line exhilarated to find they had achieved new personal records. Until those equipped with GPS-enabled tracking devices soon turned any merriment to disappointed muttering.

It seems the 5K was not 5K.

It was actually a little shorter.

Bad data routed high expectations to inevitable disappointment. Any new personal records were fake news.

Shaker intern Tyler Slezak, who placed fifth among male runners and second in his age group, won’t soon forget the thrill of briefly thinking he was about to best his personal record (PR).

“I rounded the corner to approach the last 100 feet of the race, and my eyes caught the race clock. Could it be?! I was about to PR...by a lot!” he recalled. “I thought to myself, Disney World really is the most magical place on Earth!"

But, he went on, “my excitement dwindled as I came to a sobering realization: I was not faster. The course was shorter.”

Fellow Shaker intern Matt Sloan explained he was less preoccupied with his own time during the race than beating the handful of runners who had led him the entire course. He overcame all of them by the final stretch but one. But with the last 150 feet to go, he made a grave error.

“A woman ahead of me was about 75 feet from the finish line. To make it interesting, I screamed with all my might, I'm coming for you!"

In fact, he wasn’t coming for anyone.

“Unfortunately for me, her lead and extra effort were just enough to beat me by a step and a half,” he lamented, reconsidering his strategy of taunting as the fastest way to winning.

Was Sloan disappointed to find he didn't finish the route as swiftly as he initially believed?

“I instantly knew there was no way I ran that fast,” he scoffed.

Shaker associate Noelle Frantz agreed that she crossed the finish line to confront a statistic she had a hard time believing. Her finish time reported that she ran the course in four fewer minutes than her personal record.

“I knew I was moving pretty fast—but not that fast,” she sighed. “But I’m taking the victory anyway. My time was still a personal best for me, even if it wasn’t four minutes faster.”

Shaker intern Lauren Borden was running her first-ever race and said that while she had a brief thought during the event about abandoning the whole thing and returning to her hotel room for a nap, she was momentarily dazzled by the number that greeted her at the finish.

“Initially, I had a moment of thinking, that’s awesome,” she remembered. “Then I did the math and thought, that’s not possible.”

Frank Landy, for whom this SIOP tradition is named, was committed to accuracy, compliance, and fairness. It’s difficult not to consider what the iconic founder of Landy Litigation would say about having his name attached to such a misleading campaign.

And at a time when our news and social media feeds are churning with unreliable information, where can we turn if not to those who have been entrusted with Mickey Mouse’s safekeeping?

Slezak is unconcerned.

“If anyone asks, I run a 5:35-minute mile.”