Goddammit, STOP WITH THE LAZY GORDON RAMSAY ANALYSES

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

WARNING: I’m going to swear a lot in this essay, because that’s what Gordon wants me to do.
Here is a very stupid pet peeve, but it’s actually highlighting shitty data analysis everywhere.
For the fourth time that I’ve seen, someone has gone over the seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, where he storms in and “saves” a failing restaurant, only to show that – shocker – most of these restaurants have gone out of business.  So people go, “Only 40% of the businesses survived, hurr hurr, Gordon must be terrible at this.”
Except a flea’s amount of insight would show you these are terrible fucking numbers, and you should know better.
First off, restaurants are a bad goddamned business.  Most of the restaurants in existence, Gordon Ramsay-enabled or not, don’t make it three years.  So you have to deal with a pretty high fatality rate to begin with.
And then you have to deal with the fact that these restaurants were financially shitholed when Gordon Ramsay showed up.  They weren’t just your “average” restaurant, they were a restaurant that is usually around a hundred thousand in debt.
And then Gordon Ramsay came in.  Was he effective?  I don’t know.  I’m a huge Gordon Ramsay fan, so I like to think he’s effective – but if you’re going to show me an analysis, you can’t just compare against the restaurants themselves.  These aren’t businesses – they’re terminal cancer patients, pretty much doomed to be gone soon without any intervention, so treating them like Gordon should have a 100% win rate is fucking stupid.
What you should do, if you’re trying to do a proper fucking analysis, is find a bunch of restaurants in similar bad shape – say, a over a threshold amount in debt with falling revenue – and track their survival rate over eight years.  Then compare those to Gordon’s assisted restaurants.  The difference is the actual amount Gordon helps.  Yes, Kitchen Nightmares’ save-rate is pretty poor, but one suspects that if you were to examine the “no Ramsay help” vs. “Ramsay help” you’d find that hey, actually there’s a huge gap.
But that would require journalists to do some actual goddamned work as opposed to checking Wikipedia and Yelp, and who can be expected to work that hard?
(And even then, you’d still have the issues that some restaurant owners completely ignored Gordon’s advice and reverted to their old ways weeks afterwards, and still others were so in debt they closed before the show even aired.  Yet even without removing those factors, I still suspect you want a Gordon Ramsay in your failing chefery, not that you can get it any more because goddammit Gordon get back here, I need your Kitchen Nightmares on my reality TV, this is the unkindest closing of all.)

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