I’m going to have to take a vacation from the Internet coming up. The US presidential election campaigns have started and with them, a mass influx of idiots eating up propaganda. Here we have a great piece of it. If you can sit through all of it, then you’ve got a pretty strong stomach for bullshit. I’m not going to go through point by point and show why each one of those statistics is a lieEnough people have already given their evaluations on the success of the president. Let’s instead, step back for a few moments and take a look at the bigger picture.

 

Statistics Mean Nothing

First, let’s get this out of the way: Everyone is biased. If a dairy farmer makes an infographic about the benefits of milk and how you should drink a gallon a day, are you going to question the legitimacy of his claims? Hell yes you are. So why then, do so few question the government on their pro-government messages? Do you think they don’t ‘tweak’ the numbers so you should be drinking a gallon of government a day?

 

Now we know why people twist statics, but you can gain even more clarity if you understand how. There are many techniques some of which include:

  • Biased Sampling (asking Pepsi employees their favorite soda)
  • Poor Analysis & Misleading Displays (Example)
  • Removing Context (“I’m the best driver, the car is full of gas!” [As they drive off a cliff])

 

Obama policy

 

Let’s put that car example into context of the video. “My rivals say that my policies would be bad for the economy, but the stock market up 204%!” Yeah, but put that in context. There is air the tires, but we’re headed for disaster. We are now in a massive bubble that is set to eclipse the previous two! This bubble is far worse than the tech bubble of 2000. This is what I mean by statistics that lie. This particular one is a lie of omission. Sure, maybe we have a stock market boom, but what does that imply? What does that mean for us? Too many people get caught up in rhetoric and emotion to see the big picture.

 

So how do you tell the difference between good stats and bad stats? A good rule of thumb is to assume that all stats are wrong until verified. Everyone has bias. You can get a reliable assessment of a claim if you look at the sources. If none are give, obviously that’s a false statistic. Check for obvious sources of bias in the data. Look at how it was collected, and the sampling locations. Look very closely at the data axis and legend of any graph. Most importantly, do NOT believe everything you are shown just because it’s “Science” and “Data”. Even worse do NOT believe something just because it aligns with your own personal beliefs. You have a bias too and there is a very large industry in trying to manipulate your opinion to have the “right” bias.

 

Politicians don’t care about the truth. The truth doesn’t matter. It’s about mobilizing a political movement. Inciting emotions, tricking people into fighting for their cause weather it benefits the masses or not. Facts are irrelevant.

But don’t worry, you won’t have to listen to “radicals” like me much longer. I’ll be spirited away soon enough.

 

Related: Political Games And Propaganda – Obama At The Grammys