This blog takes its name from the old adage that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. While the abuse of statistics certainly remains a popular way to deceive people, our modern world offers so many other methods for fooling people that I decided to broaden the expression by dropping the last word. Despite dropping that last word, my goal for this blog remains true to the original intent of the expression: to examine issues that I believe are being misreported or “spun” in such a way that the casual reader might be misled.
Often, I will focus on topics that I believe politicians or pundits with a political axe to grind are purposefully misrepresenting in an effort to further their political agenda by misleading the general public.
Other times, I’ll choose topics that I believe the new media are handling poorly. All too often in today’s hyperpartisan political environment, even news organizations that attempt to keep their own political bias from impacting reporting seem to believe that if they present two opposing views, generally one from “the left” and one from “the right,” the result is balanced reporting. It is not. Reading (or listening) to two individuals who each carefully cherry-picks facts and statistics so that all information presented only supports their own viewpoint is not enough since both of them is likely to leave out key information. Imagine trying to guess what Leonardo DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” looks like only by seeing the left-most and right-most thirds of the painting. Without the center — without Monna Lisa’s face and enigmatic smile — observers would conclude that the painting was nothing more than a curious landscape with one side closer than the other.
I, of course, have my own political viewpoints. Rather than pretending that these do not exist, I will admit them up front so that readers can make whatever allowances they deem appropriate while reading my little rants.
About the Author
I am a former career U.S. diplomat and, before that, an entrepreneur in the early days of California’s “Silicon Valley.” I have lived in a dozen countries and visited many, many more. At various points in my life, I have been judged to possess “professional fluency” in various languages, including Russian, Vietnamese and Polish. I speak a smattering of various other languages as well. I was a career member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States and had the honor of serving five Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barak Obama. My functional experience ranges from nuclear security (I was the first ever Director for Nuclear Materials Security at the National Security Council) to economics to cultural exchanges to energy (among others).