Roving I: Numbers Don’t Lie (But Sometimes They Fib)

| June 4, 2012 | 0 Comments | Columns

Sometimes how we feel about the numbers are more important than the numbers themselves.

I’m sure you’ve heard that old saying “Numbers don’t lie.” When I first heard it, my thought was, well, of course numbers don’t lie. How could they? They can’t even speak! Duh. But when I took a moment to stop being so literal about my interpretation and was able to take it to mean that numbers, like facts, are objective and irrefutable, I wondered if the adage was completely true.

I like numbers in general — and the number three in particular — but I don’t know if numbers can always be trusted to tell you the whole truth. Here’s a few numbers that might not tell you everything you need to know about the very thing they’re supposed to be accurately measuring:

1. Weight: A scale will tell you how many pounds you weigh, but it can not tell you how many of these pounds are muscle, how many are fat, or (thank God) how many pounds you have put on since the last time you weighed yourself.

2. Age: Everybody, especially folks younger than you, just loves to remind you exactly how old you are, especially on your birthday. But chronological age is only part of the picture. For example, I recently turned 50 (a moment of silence, please…thank you), but mentally and emotionally I think I’m more like a 15-year-old. So I’m splitting the difference and telling everyone I’m 32.5.  In my mind, that’s a better description of my age than 50 is. And you know what they say, age is a state of mind. Smile if you’re with me on this.

3. Money: Not that it’s any of our business, but the media tells us how much money various celebrities and politicians make each year for their work. And even though I know it’s none of my business, salary information should be confidential, yada yada yada, I admit that I enjoy finding out how much these people make, especially in comparison to yours truly. But I’m equally if not more interested in knowing what they do with their money to get an idea of what they value, and a salary figure alone won’t tell me that.

To be fair, there are a few numbers that I think you can –and should– trust to help you steer clear of problems on the obstacle-laden road of life: your ATM card password (unless you use letters, but even then the letters usually correspond to numbers), your spouse/significant other’s birthday, and your lucky lottery numbers. I recommend that you commit those important numbers to memory. Or if you can’t be bothered to do that, write them down and keep them somewhere handy. Trust me (I’m not a number, so I won’t lie to you), once you have those important numbers down, your life should be as easy as, well, 1-2-3.

© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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