A Story About a Little Town
Let’s say that there is a little town in a valley in Spain and that, due to the geography of the area, is isolated from the rest of the country so that the residents have little interaction with their fellow countrymen. What if I were to tell you that the men of the town tended to die, on the average, twenty years before the women?
You might assume that it is a poor area and that the men worked themselves to death trying to provide for their families.
Then, what if I were to tell you that the little valley was actually a very fertile and prosperous area so that the men only had to work a few hours per day?
You’d probably ask for more information.
Then, what if I were to tell you that, due to their prosperity, the men could afford tobacco and that all smoked several packs of cigarettes per day?
You would probably have an “Aha!” moment and assume that they tended to die from smoking related illnesses.
Then, what if I were to tell you that none actually ever died from smoking related illnesses, because none ever lived long enough?
You’d probably be back to asking for more information.
Then, what if I were to tell you that, while the rest of the country does the “run with the bulls” thing only once per year, the men of this down, due to their excess of leisure time, do it every week.
You might have yet another “Aha!” moment and think that the bulls knocked them off prematurely.
Then, what if I were to tell you that, because of their considerable experience, the men had become experts at the sport so that it was rare for one to become injured, let alone killed.
By now, you’d probably be scratching your head and would ask, once again, for more information.
Then, what if I were to tell you that, due to their prosperity and excess leisure time, the men all gathered at the local watering hole about noon every day and began drinking, keeping it up until late evening when, so drunk that they could hardly walk, they would all go out and race their motor scooters around the town square.
By now you might be too shy about jumping to conclusions to have any more “Aha!” moments and would probably go directly to asking for more information.
Unfortunately, however, there is no more information, since that is the end of the story.
You might then ask, “So, what’s the point?”
The point is that the true answer to any difficult and important question can become almost irretrievably obfuscated by extraneous, irrelevant, and deceiptful information.
Think global warming.