June 23, 2004

Making the Data Fit

"Iraqis Consider Hostage Killings Against Islam," reads the headline from Xinhua Online.

Oh good, I think. Some acknowledgement of the depravity. Good, finally. Maybe they can start signing Jim's petition.

You'd think by now I'd know better:

"Slaughtering the Korean hostage is something intended to offend Islam, which resents such savage acts," said Sheikh Mohamed Ali Baqir from Kadhumiyah region in central Baghdad.

"The beneficiaries of such vicious acts are the occupying forces, for the Americans could justify their prolonged stay in Iraq," said Saad Jameel, a local journalist.

"Americans can tell the world public opinion that the coalition forces are necessary in Iraq, and they can lobby more countries to join the anti-terror campaign," said Jameel.

"We should understand the gist of it to be able to realize who stands behind such actions," he added.

In my freshman Physics lab we had one experiment that would not come out right, no matter what we did. The equipment was old; the special low-friction mat had acquired enough nicks and scratches to become a high-friction surface; other apparatuses (apparati?) weren't working up to spec either. Now take a table like mine, at which two people clearly cared about getting the lab done right and two people clearly didn't care at all, at which the two people who cared about getting it right couldn't stand each other and bickered nonstop about how to proceed even on days the equipment was working, and you can see the inevitable end to it all:

At seven minutes to end of lab we trudged over to the one table that had successfully run the experiment and attained the "correct" results, and we copied their data. Then we altered it just a bit to make it look, you know, original.

Then we turned it in and left.

Kind of like the other six tables who hadn't got theirs right either did. In other words, kind of like all students but four did.

Now it's one thing to do that in a freshman Physics lab, particularly if you aren't majoring in Physics anyway and don't care if you're ever allowed near a particle accelerator in your life. I was one of the argumentative ones who initially cared about getting the experiment right, but in the end I just didn't care that much.

(Neither did the teaching assistant, who had to have noticed how in the last 15 minutes the one "good" table was being swamped with visitors from the seven "bad" tables.)

It's one thing to fudge data in a freshman Physics lab. It's a whole other thing to structure your world view, your cultural outlook, so that no matter what the data, the inevitable--the only--conclusion drawn is Americans Bad.

Got radicals kidnapping noncombatants off your streets? Americans Bad. Got foreigners bailing out on you, taking their money with them when they go? Americans Bad. Got a religion, often state-sponsored in your neck of the woods, that's suffering a little public relations crisis just lately? Americans Bad.

(Feel free to substitute "Jews" anywhere you see "Americans," by the way--they certainly do. With impunity.)

The important thing is to reach the right conclusion, to vault your hypothesis straight past theory and into immutable stone-etched law: Americans Bad.

Above all you should certainly avoid looking at things like unemployment and health care and civil liberties and literacy and . . . and you know something? Maybe just don't look at the data at all. Because it's a foregone conclusion: Americans Bad.

Isn't it?

Posted by Ilyka at June 23, 2004 09:24 PM in news

I've got five signatures now. In just under 3 months. All seem to be from outside the United States too.

Posted by: Jim at June 23, 2004 11:58 PM

replacing 'Americans' with 'Jews' isn't merely a substitution, it's getting closer to the reality of that worldview. Jews bad. America is controlled by Jews, *therefore* bad.

Posted by: joe at June 24, 2004 02:02 AM

Time to slice like a fucking hammer, methinks.

Posted by: Emma at June 24, 2004 02:15 AM