Damned Lies!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Benjamin Disraeli, former Prime Minister of England, once said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."  Mark Twain sorta imported this quote for his own use as well.  I'm a numbers type guy, and so I'm not sure why they mention statistics, though I know that people often HATE statistics if they don't support there ideas... maybe that's it.

However, lately I am getting all sorts of emails, seeing things on TV, and reading things on the 'net that are not only lies...but "damned lies".  It's amazing the amount of garbage that is out there.  Emails that attribute quotes to people that never said anything of the sort, people on TV restating history (incorrectly, I might add) to support their idea, and so on and so on.... Most of it is political, but not all.

I've also noticed that a lot of people hear it, or read it, and if they like what it says, believe it.  No one seems to check to see if these emails and such are actually true.  Basically..."it supports my idea of what I believe, therefore I will pass it one to everyone in my address book 'cause it HAS to be right"  Right?  Yeah..right... I've come to the conclusion that if its in an email and is forwarded to me, its a lie until proven otherwise.  It's safer that way....

Sometimes people write things on a web site and it is meant to be satire.  Satire is a way to attack a position, often in a humorous way, and using sarcasm, exaggeration and other types of expression.  Not everyone is bright enough, I guess, to recognize the art form, and they will often take these writings as literal.  Usually they are meant to be taken as just the opposite....

But, how do you know if the content is actually true or not?  I have found a couple of sites that combat these lies.  One of these sites is called Snopes.  All sorts of categories and such, and you can search the site for a specific email that you've received.  If the email looks like its been forwarded a zillion times, you will most likely find it on this site. 

Another site I visited a LOT during the last presidential election was FactCheck.org.  Great site to find the real truth about most things political.  They are not liberal. They are not conservative.  They do seem to be literalists in the fact that if someone says something, and it doesn't ring true, they will say so.  I heard so much crap during the last election, and most of it was debunked on this site.   Statistics... and which why some I told about this site thought that the "other side" must support it because it countered things they believed. 

Personally, if I'm being lied to, I want to know about it.  Maybe ignorance is bliss, and yes, the truth can hurt.  But a small hurt now is much better than a big hurt later on down the line....

It's been said that the truth shall set you free, and as Sergeant Joe Friday (Dragnet - if you are old enough to remember) said "Just the facts, ma'am", but it seems no one can tell the truth.  And according to FactCheck.org, politicians can lie all they want, and really, no one can stop them.  Well, except the voters. 

But if they voters believe what they hear, why would they? 


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