Reality of Historical Records
Posted Apr 29, 2012
Something to consider:
- A person gets injured and goes to the hospital. Because they are embarrassed about what really caused the injury, they report the cause as something else.
- A crime occurs, but for various reasons, the victim doesn't report it.
- Someone doesn't like a co-worker, and falsifies reports, making them seem guilty of something.
- During war, records are altered in order to remove evidence of wrong-doing in order to escape the wrath of a superior officer.
- A business manager fudges the sales figures.
- A witness to a crime exaggerates how many people were involved.
- A politician alters the records to obscure who they received money from and how much.
- A person lies on their tax records in order to gain tax benefits.
- A scientist who lives off funding and grants exaggerates the impact of (or completely lies about) the subject of their research in order to seem more important.
- People running an organization cover up details of a problem in order to prevent a scandal.
We lie. We exaggerate. We conceal. It's human nature, especially under personally stressful cases, such as sales, war, crime, etc. And the fact that we fill out "official documents" doesn't change that fact. We simply place these lies on paper.
And yet, we rely on official documents to give us historical data.
When we use these documents to asses historical trends, activities, etc. the rarest action we take is asking "what if these are not
When the more likely fact is that a huge amount of the records we keep are not accurate (to various degrees) we should be very
careful about the decisions we make by using them.
Here's a perfect example: The US IRS tax codes practically encourages people to fudge numbers in order to gain bigger tax returns. (I recall that in their documentation, this is almost expressly said so, but I can't relocate this information, so I may be wrong on that.)
Now, those official tax return documents are used to "paint" a picture of economic activity, and those pictures are used to make decisions and actions on a Federal level, affecting the entire United States of America.
Do they ever ask themselves where the data they're looking at may be flawed? Do you? Maybe you should.
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