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Of Anecdotes and Stats


Friends,
In a world where perception is reality, how we shape our perceptions matters. Reality is a complex beast and there are many ways to correctly interpret the same thing -that’s why reasonable people can disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everyone is right -I also believe many statements are either true or false, and there are outright lies. What I am saying is we need to put things into perspective. The best way I know to do this is to try to understand whether the statement in question is an anecdote or a trend -and try not to generalize and paint in broad strokes. I cringe when a foreigner does a terrible thing and all foreigners are painted with the same brush -or worse, it becomes justification for xenophobic rants and policies. Granted, any crime is terrible and we should aspire to a world without it, however, that anecdote needs to be cast against the latest census data. In 2010 non-citizens were 7% of the U.S. population and only 5% of the prison population (and, yes, this predates recent mass deportation policies). So they’re less likely to commit crimes. Or, take this morning. This email might tempt you to think today is Friday. The short week may also make it feel like a Wednesday. These perceptions aside, it’s actually Thursday. I just decided to come into the South office today (where there are likely to be more folks in need of a donut). So as you ponder the latest anecdote in the news, grab a donut and try to frame it with some context.
Happy Fri… Thursday!

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