The reading list
In history, there is no weapon quite so powerful as a good statistic. Any fact can be made to sound more factual, and any truth can be made to sound more true, simply by putting a number on it.
The problem is that these numbers can be, and frequently are, made up. Probably the most abused area of study is that of the Second World War and its aftermath, where statistics are routinely manipulated, stamped on or simply plucked out of the air, depending on the speaker's personal or political agenda. … Some of the statistics circulating on the Internet today are not only absurd, they are outrageous. For example, there are dozens of websites that claim that 3 million German prisoners of war, and a further 3 million German civilians, were killed in revenge after World War II. It is no coincidence that these figures add up to 6 million, which exactly equates to the number of Jews murdered during the Holocaust. … Needless to say, such numbers are complete nonsense. They come from German government sources in the 1950s, which had reasons galore for inflating the figures. Modern German scholars think the true number of civilian deaths after the war was more like half a million, and of deaths amongst prisoners of war to be around a million. … Digging around in this mire is one of the most interesting but unpleasant jobs any historian of the period must endure. Every now and then one is presented with a beautiful sight: an academic paper written by an author with no extreme political or national bias, in which all the numbers are backed up with clear evidence and watertight statistical data. More often, however, one finds oneself a witness to bitter disputes, where statistics are wielded like weapons – the bigger the better – in a battle between races, between nationalities, or between right and left. In such an atmosphere it is little wonder that the real numbers – the dispassionate sort that cannot be disputed – are always left on the sidelines.
“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics,” by Keith Lowe, historytoday.com
Gov. Mitch Daniels' first full-time job was working with what Indiana politician?
Wisdom of the ages
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.— Benjamin Franklin
Then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar. He later became chief of staff for Sen. Lugar.
Epeolatry (ep-i-OL-uh-tree). n. — the worship of words. From Ancient Greek epos (word) and latry (worship of).
Today in history
On this date in 1885, former general and president Ulysses S. Grant died at the age of 63.
Now you know
Marcella Gruelle of Indianapolis created the Raggedy Ann doll in 1914.