Six Sigma mutant ninja turtles?

The first time I came across a mature adult calling himself a six sigma black belt I was left feeling slightly bemused, and compelled to ask: ‘Does that mean you’re the sixth mutant ninja turtle?’

You might imagine that the black belter was not at all amused. And yet he found it difficult to articulate what he meant by the terminology.

So here’s a little overview of the concepts that underlie the somewhat juvenile nomenclature.

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When intelligent people turn out to be really stupid: Chapter 65,535 – Six Sigma and critical thinking

Knowing better, but actually being struck across the forehead with evidence of astonishing stupidity in academic and business practices is probably more painful than that initial moment of clarity when the futility of determinist reductionism first comes into sharp focus.


The latter occurred for me decades ago, and echoes the late Christopher Hitchens’ ruminations on people who have power:

… I began to discern one of the elements of an education: get as near to the supposed masters and commanders as you can and see what stuff they are really made of. As I watched famous scholars and professors flounder here and there, I also, in my career as a speaker at the Oxford Union, had a chance to meet senior ministers and parliamentarians “up close” and dine with them before as well as drink with them afterward, and be amazed once again at how ignorant and sometimes plain stupid were the people who claimed to run the country.

— Christopher Hitchens (2010). Hitch 22: A Memoir. New York: Twelve/Hachette Book Group, p 98.

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