As I’ve written before, “No, the spies weren’t wrong. They were just mistaken.”
If Mark Twain had lived in the 21st Century, he might have amended his adage on lies & statistics to include “big data.”
Indeed, the spies got their reporting straight. It was their interpretation that was off.
Facts are just that. They are. And they are facts. But the real question is, what do we do with the facts we have?
Facing the same facts, one general could order an advance, but the second beats a retreat. One entrepreneur fold up shop, and the other sees a new niche. One candidate for office sees a slippery slope, and the other a strong foundation.
The spies, at least the ten we fault, saw what was. And they told everyone what they saw.
Where they erred was in their recommendation.
To borrow from fiction, the facts were indisputably that a nuclear submarine was on the move. Most thought it the tip of an attacking spear. Only Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan saw it differently. (To see who wins, either read the now near classic book or see the blockbuster movie.)
We live in an age of information overload. Data and facts aren’t the full story.
Policymakers need to realize that data is used to advance a decision, and possibly, to change direction (or to double down).
Let’s remember that going forward.
Words to consider. Ideas to ponder. Politics & the parsha.