Loose Ends: Number Jumble

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By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the Herald Times

MEEKER | They say it is all in the numbers. Any change in government policy and reasoned decision-making should be reflected in the digits in the data. Local governments often turn to paid consultants to look at the numbers and interpret them. 

The problem arises when the numbers gathered are disputed by many whose decisions are personally based rather than consideration of the common good. Copious committees are formed and the arguments started. Reasoned discourse usually is nowhere to be found. Citing numbers to justify one’s view on a variety of issues happens more often than not.

Using the data that is available and applying it to small, rural communities such as Meeker, is a problem for local policy makers. It usually isn’t in the numbers themselves, it is how those numbers might be interpreted to support a certain stand or an issue. There seems to be an ongoing broad interpretation of the data collected to support all sorts of previously held convictions. 

It often results in a continual jumbling of numbers. The correlations drawn between numbers and human behavior traditionally use scientific standards. These days in this new age of social media, so many numbers are spouting up and out into the air as regularly as Old Faithful. 

There are too many people in positions of power that accept all information spewed out into social media. They use parts of the statistics incorrectly, claiming the numbers as facts to stop other community members from opposing their views. The simple convenience of looking up anything on the internet has made it easy to gain access to so much information on any subject. Too much of that information is invalid. Using much of the information without verifying its accuracy and coming to valid conclusions make it impossible to make well-reasoned decisions.

It is a continual juggling of the numbers. Looking carefully at the source of these statistics remains essential. No matter where we live, making public policy should be more than a numbers game.