May 03, 2005

A World of Spin

It is interesting how much of our world is full of spin. Almost everything we take in, every bit of information, needs to be analyzed and assessed as to where it is coming from.

My favorite example of this occurred last year at the capture of Saddam Hussein. The news anchor said something to the effect of, “Iraqi support for the American presence in Iraq is decreasing,” and then continued on his news reel. Interesting…we know very few actual facts from that sentence. On top of that, the implications most people would draw from a sentence like that are profound. Let me demonstrate…

  1. Support…is decreasing. Fair enough. But from 98% to 7%? Or just from 98% to 97.5? We have no idea.
  2. Iraqi support… Hypothesize for a moment with me. What if, just maybe, the Iraqi people don’t necessarily know what is best for them? (What if, for that matter, we don’t know what is best for ourselves…but that’s another question.) This sentence clearly implies that the Iraqi’s must know what is best for themselves. But I think each of us can think of a dear friend of ours who made foolish decisions—and clearly did not know what was the best for themselves.

It just goes to show that it doesn’t take much work to spin what started as a fact into a phrase riddled with implications.

In a related note that sparked this whole discussion, Paul Graham writes a whole article on the art of spin as related to PR.

I guess it just shows that we all need to be carefully critical of all we read—Christians especially, as we’ve been given a task to be salt and light to the nations.

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