Charts: The heartless weapon on the “educated” classes.


Something happened to the world as we started to get smarter. We have expressions like, ‘the map is not the territory’, or jokes like, ‘When is a car not a car? When it turns into a driveway,’ that we prefer to ignore. Economists, including even Marx, believed that economics dealt with the human condition. Today this concept is buried behind piles of statistical papers 

The gap between the human condition, that is, people living miserable lives, and the charts that we use to describe those lives has never been greater and the contortion of those graphs to appease the “educated” elite has never been wider.

Does anybody believe that black lives matter? Greek lives? Arab lives? Christian lives? The only lives that seem to matter are those that have money, weapons or influence. The rest are simply data.

There have been over 11,000 black on black murders since Trayvon Martin was killed. That statistic was buried in a right wing blog where it was used as an excuse. Yesterday, in the city where I live, 5 boys were arrested for physically abusing a snapping turtle and a woman for “sexual abusing” an animal. When we are told of the fate of 98 million Americans with no jobs, it’s just another statistic. No mention of frustration, hopelessness or the misery of people with no chance in life.

As the ability to measure data gets more sophisticated, the distance between reality and charts will get wider and the tools to contort data will become more abusive. We will soon, I we are not already, be living in the world we envisioned in the futuristic horror movies of the 70’s. The world is crying out for a leader. It’s more likely we’ll get a hologram.

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