Around a BBQ over the Christmas break, a bunch of us were chatting about what we would ban as a New Years resolution, as you do. Some innovative solutions to intractable problems emerged, peace in the middle east, an end to nuclear Iran/Korea/Pakistan, a clean coal technology, and so on. Light refreshments were involved.

One that struck me was when someone suggested we ban “Spin Doctors” particularly political ones that set out to persuade us that black is white, that what happened was not as it seemed, that somebody else was to blame, people had not contributed to climate change, and any number of other “Goebbelesque” distortions.

It occurred to me that the problem here was ours, as consumers of information and the media by which it is communicated, we accept the interpretation of data by those with a point of view, and often no knowledge just an outcome in mind.  We allow those in positions of influence to distort data to their own purposes, when the opportunity is available to us to consider the data ourselves, and process it into information we are comfortable with. 

Data is not information, it is just data to be interpreted to become information, and when used properly, usually with further processing, knowledge.

In this age of data availability and transparency, we only have ourselves to blame when we accept as the truth some dodgy interpretation of data by a dill with an agenda.