Figures can lie but lies cannot figure. That was a saying our business school lecturer would throw at our class to make sure we presented correct numbers in our stories.
There are many variations of this. Possibly the most nauseous, but still very useful is what we hear still being trooped out by IT people and software vendors is their aim to give us “The same version of the truth“.
But to be fair, these days in the transparent world of information and behavioral influence you need good systems for recall. Or to use another well warn clich? , “To remember your last lie”
In a Cairo speech, US President Obama said that there were around seven million Muslims living in America. At another time since he is reported to have said that number is five million. Another number according to the CIA World Fact Book translates to about 1.84 million. I looked it up under ethnic groups and Muslims make up 0.6% of the total population 307 Million people
Obama used these figures to make a point and debunking with semantics will only succeed in furthering the discussion agenda. This it seems is a worthwhile for the value of seeking more harmony for ongoing positive relations. On the other hand the agenda may be undermined if the focus on the semantics take root. So it is important to be consistent and have qualified use of information we have.
So it does matter, especially in things like life and death and in business where survival may be based on a perception driven by a false premise. Relationships with the Middle east are vital to everyone and errors like this can be used to undermine the good intent. No matter how good you systems are even if it is on more mundane issues like performance of a product or the cost of an operation, in the end you need to validate and check you numbers and qualify them well.
It also seems that there is no single version of the truth so if we are to succeed and have credible communication for change, we may need to work a little harder at it so there is only one that prevails.