Intentionally Divisive, Dangerous Fictions and Lies. (EP.243)

The plural of anecdote is not data. 

Introduction

“The killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force. Yes, investigations must be called for – but so too should accountability. Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death,” Stacey Abrams, former member of the Georgia legislature and 2018 gubernatorial candidate, wrote in a tweet

“Hands up, don’t shoot.” Out and out lie.

Mr. Brooks is not dead simply because he was sleeping in a drive-thru. And “Hands up, don’t shoot.” referring to the Michael Brown killing, is an aggressively perpetrated lie. Lies and fictions like these are callously spread to advance agendas–all while claiming the moral high ground.

If a policy or an agenda cannot stand up to the, “Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” then it needs to be either changed or completely discarded. 

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 

Continuing

The first time I came across planned and coordinated fiction and lies by a major entity was during the 1954 McCarthy televised hearings. Senator Joseph McCarthy, R-WI, rose to national fame in February 1950 when he asserted in a speech that he had a list of “members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring” who were employed in the State Department. I knew that some people thought the senator was lying, and others thought he was onto something important. The hearings eventually exposed McCarthy as a charlatan. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67–22, making him one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. He died in 1957 at age 48, and his name is still synonymous with lying and manipulation on a national scale.

In 1960, the Republican Eisenhower Administration was involved in international lying. The Russians, under Nikita Khrushchev, claimed that the US had been caught flying high altitude spy missions over Russian territory. Eisenhower’s administration at first denied the claim, saying that it was a civilian weather research aircraft. Only after the Russians produced the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, and the U-2 spy plane, did the administration fess up to what it had been doing, and admit to having lied about it. In accordance with his pre-mission briefing, Powers confessed that he had indeed been in a spy plane over Russian territory, spying for the CIA. He spent almost two years in a Russian prison, before being released on a prisoner exchange. 

These two incidents remind me of a quote from Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, “Make the lie big, keep it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.” But we need to match that quote to one of Lincoln’s, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” -Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. 

Here is a big, false claim, “There is systemic racism in the US.” Or, “We must end systemic racism in America.” And this claim is being asserted over and over again, both directly and indirectly. Stacey Abrams supports this claim. As does everyone who perpetuates the, “Hands up, don’t shoot” lie. All of the evidence shows that Michael Brown was advancing on the officer who shot him, and he was advancing on the officer after Mr. Brown had tried to take the gun from the officer by force. The several witnesses whose accounts started the Hands up, don’t shoot fiction, all declined to testify in court. And for an easy to understand reason, not one of them had a video or even a photo supporting their version of the event.

There are many believable stories of ugly race-based incidents. I believe much of the anecdotal evidence of racist actions and events, perpetrated by both law enforcement officials and civilians. But we should all be demanding real data, statistically significant data, not a string of stories, anecdotes–no matter how these stories may support one agenda or another. And doesn’t everyone who is not simply agenda-driven want real data before making up their minds, and certainly before we act on our beliefs? Remember: The plural of anecdote is not data. 

A go-to spokesperson for many on matters concerning race is Al Sharpton, most recently the keynote speaker at George Floyd’s funeral. Mr. Sharpton was licensed and ordained a Pentecostal minister by Bishop F. D. Washington at the age of nine or ten, and likes to sport the title of Reverend. One of the lowest points in an unenviable career of race baiting came in 1987 when Mr. Sharpton manufactured a rape case accusing Steven Pagones, a white county prosecutor, of raping and otherwise humiliating Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old black girl. Mr. Sharpton and two others were successfully sued by Mr. Pagones, and Pagones was awarded $345,000 in damages. But this accusation based on lies helped launch Al’s career, and he has never looked back, and never changed his tactics, including his continuing claim that America is systemically and institutionally racist. 

There are instances of racism in American systems; school systems, law enforcement, in the military and in other systems and institutions. But instances of racism in various systems and institutions in the US do not at all support the claim of systemic or institutional racism. Remember: The plural of anecdote is not data. 

Only hard data, combining enough information and vetted in a way as to yield statistically valid conclusions, will yield the truth. Anecdotes, no matter how often and how loudly repeated, do not yield any truths sufficient to even consider implementing or changing local, state or national policies or approaches to issues. If a policy or an agenda cannot stand up to the, “Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” then it needs to be either changed or completely discarded. 

Let’s conclude today’s episode by challenging President Lincoln’s claim that some of us can be fooled all of the time. Let’s all demand that we have sufficient hard data that no one can be fooled at any time. And send the agenda-driven liars and fiction fans packing while we as a society, as a nation, move forward–together and without them–in the light of the truth.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Contact

As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple, Google, or Stitcher.

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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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Will Luden
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2 Responses

  1. James Kuhn Reply

    We are at a point in our culture that is okay to “stretch” the facts or “omit” some facts and declare it to be the whole truth. Pure honesty is not the norm and as a society we tend to accept the “parts” of the truth we think supports our personal position. We have fallen a long way from the Biblical standard of truth.

  2. Will Luden Reply

    Seems I have arrived; getting insults (no reasoning) from exactly the “right” type of person. Onward, Will, onward!

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