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Put it in context

Sunday, March 12, 2006
If you take away nothing else from what you see here, dear readers, please remember this: "Facts without context are meaningless."

This is something I believe very strongly. I believe that without putting a fact or statistic in context, any meaning behind that fact is lost. Take for instance the Enron trial. In this article on msnbc the tone in which a comment is made (for instance sarcasm) has a strong influence on the actual meaning of the statement.

Another example in the meaninglessness of context-free facts is statistics. Citing population numbers - rather than ratios - is a common way to mangle the meaning of statistics. If I say "Over a thousand people in Oregon alone are suffering from the flu right now" it sounds bad, but if say, "Only 1 in 5,000 people in oregon are currently suffering from the flu" the statement is more meaningful (a context for the number) and more accurate.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that any facts must be considered in the light in which they're given. This revelation - mantra, if you will - is my contribution to modern knowledge and understanding. You can quote me on it.

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