Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Drawing Conclusions

Everybody draws conclusions and takes sides on issues. Some people do their homework, others rely on sources that tell one side of the story, and still others just go along with the consensus. I would like to consider myself as a person that does their homework before drawing conclusions. In fact, I would like to say that I try to “think out of the box” when drawing conclusions. To think out of the box one must be open to information from all sources and one must also be willing to inspect the situation from different perspectives. It is also imperative when drawing conclusions to use and properly analyze bipartisan statistics using acceptable mathematical concepts. Finally, to draw conclusions one must be able to show all their math work as well as all their sources. After all, to properly draw a conclusion, one must be able to defend their position using logic and sound judgment.

Unfortunately, very few people do the necessary work needed to draw “reasonable” conclusions on issues. The biggest mistake people make is drawing a conclusion based solely on what another pundit thinks is correct. To properly draw conclusions each person should prove their point of view to themselves. For example, I may have drawn some of the same conclusions on government spending as say Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh, but I did not necessarily come to the conclusion in the same manner. While these conservative pundits may bring religion and their historical perspective on data, I use real numbers from government sites to create models to prove to myself what the effects of raising taxes on the wealthy, or the effect of having our economy move to wind or solar energy, or if there is a direct relationship between carbon emissions and global temperatures. And I serious doubt that any economic or political pundit will crunch the numbers to these complex problems as thoroughly as I will. As a recent study indicated – economic and political pundits are correct far less than 50% of the time when prognosticating the outcome of 2 scenarios. For instance, when asked if inflation will go up or down next year, pundits are less likely to predict the outcome correctly than flipping a coin.

Yes, many scientists have created models to prove climate change is manmade or taxing the wealthy reduces consumer spending. However, most scientists refuse to not only show their models and data, but refuse to show their calculations. I tutor two gifted grade school kids in math. Both have a unique a way of seeing and solving math problems, but in the end they generally come to the same conclusion. Yes, they solve the same problem using different methods – and this can be clearly seen because they show their work. Until scientists show their work it will be hard for me to accept what either side is saying is true or false because most of these scientific studies are funded by special interest groups.

The bottom line is it is not enough to accept conclusions just because they agree with those made by specific pundits. Prove it to yourself. You may be surprised to find out that you may come to the same conclusion as pundits, but for different reasons. This will enable people to better understand issues and therefore, better at offering “reasonable” solutions to problems and issues. Political and economic pundits will always draw conclusions, but they will rarely provide “reasonable” solutions to the problems and issues they are debating.

My Book: Is America Dying? (, Barnes and Noble)


  1. Indeed, Pat, just as examples, Rush said that Gingrich had balanced the budget as Speaker. My more-thorough research, however, of primary data showed that Clinton, Gingrich, and Limbaugh were all wrong, very wrong. Limbaugh also opined that Obama was getting lower reported unemployment rates because the size of America's workforce had lost 2 million jobs.

    I analyzed that in a previous post, because one doesn't get a lower result from lowering the denominator on the other side.

    1. I'm a bit confused. If there are 10 people in the workforce and 8 of them are employed, that's 80% (or 20% unemployment). If 2 people retire and the workforce shrinks to 8 people, then 8 out of 8 people will be employed or 100%, in which case unemployment decreases to 0%. That math would seem to support what Rush said. Am I missing something?

  2. Yes, Dr. Pete, I read your blog and I completely agree with your conclusions about unemployment.

  3. Hi Patrick,

    You bring up a very interesting point. I agree, to the best of their ability people should do their own homework to see if what they’re being told is based on the facts. To the extent things can be verified by doing our own math, that’s the best of all. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, especially when we are bombarded with conflicting information. When that happens it all comes down to who you trust.

  4. I understand your point CW. There seems to be conflicting information on just about every subject. Maybe we are becoming paralyzed by over information?