The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson

Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Lies and Beliefs

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Benjamin Disraeli once famously said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." However, there are actually four kinds of lies: mistakes, lies, damned lies, and statistics.

  1. Mistakes are when you have said something that you believe to be true, but later discover it was untrue. After the discovery of your mistake, you have a moral responsibility to correct the record with those who you had misinformed.
  2. Lies make the world go around. They are told to protect the feeling of others or to prevent embarrassment to ourselves. They should only be told if no harm comes from them. Otherwise, they will become Dammed Lies.
  3. Damned Lies are told to gain an advantage for ourselves or to demonize, denigrate, or disparage another. They are despicable, and when they are discovered the Damned Liar should be roundly condemned.
  4. Statistics are covered in my Articles "Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave" and "Public Polling", and I will direct you to these observations for further thoughts on this subject.

You should keep this in mind when someone claims another is a liar, and base your judgment on the person telling a lie on what type of lie they told.

The corollary to this statement is:

Just because you believe something to be true does not make it true.

We all have our beliefs based on our knowledge and experience. But our knowledge and experience can be incorrect or incomplete. Or in the words of Benjamin Franklin:

“For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.”


“doubt a little of your own infallibility.”

So, therefore, always doubt your own infallibility and be willing to change your mind or opinion based on better information or fuller consideration. You should also ask yourself, and others, what are the repercussions of your being wrong — or right. Since reading the above Benjamin Franklin quotes I have tried to make it a point to always doubt my own infallibility. I often ask myself what if I am wrong and what would be the repercussions if I were wrong. I also ask myself the opposite as well - if I were right and the repercussions of my being right. I then began asking the same questions of other persons opinions and policies. I have found this very helpful in trying to determine the truth, as well as determining the best course of action or forming an opinion.

Perhaps if we all did this it would help us to make a better judgment or a fuller opinion. You should also ask yourself, and others, what are the repercussions of your being wrong — or right. Also, keep in mind the (attributed to) Mark Twain statement:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Mark Twain also said:

“When I was sixteen I thought that my father was the dumbest most ignorant man in the world. And when I turned twenty I was amazed how much he had learned in four short years.”

Most of us learn as we mature, and our knowledge and experience increase even as we become senior citizens. You should keep this in mind throughout your life. As to the knowledge and experiences of youth I have written on this subject in my article “The Cult of Youth”.