An Unhealthy Obsession with Irrelevant Numbers

Despite acceptance being the final stage of the five-step grieving process, the media and much of the political left remains stuck on the first step, denial. Having lost the battle of ideas as evidenced by Donald Trump solidly beating Hillary Clinton in the election, the focus is instead on numbers, rather than ideas, as numbers are harder to refute. Or so it seems.

Numbers can also work against one’s argument. For example, the climate change movement insists global warming is real and measurable. They point to higher temperatures, specifically 2016 being the “hottest year on record” based on the “global average surface temperature anomaly”. Lots of assumptions built into that model. And based on “anomalies”.

Fine and good, but what about these other recent anomalies? Three feet of snow in the Sahara, one of the hottest, driest places on Earth. The locals are sledding on all the global warming. Or 30 centimeters of snow falling at the Cardrona Ski Resort in New Zealand. Snow in winter, big deal. Colorado mountains are buried in snow. Except that New Zealand is in the Southern hemisphere where it’s currently summer.

Obsess over “anomaly” numbers and what happens when other “real” numbers don’t fit the narrative?

Dodgy numbers are used not only in the global warming movement, but also in politics. Three examples are worth illustrating.

First were the presidential opinion polls, consistently showing Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead. Many, including myself, wrote about the flawed polls, oversampling Democrats, to provide a desired result rather than reflecting reality. A bit like cherry picking weather or temperature data as a means of concluding “the science is settled.”

The phony poll numbers were a form of wishful thinking on the part of the media organizations commissioning the polls. Ironically, they may have worked against their favored candidate, Mrs. Clinton. Hearing a constant drumbeat of an upcoming landslide electoral victory, the Clinton campaign became complacent, lightening Mrs. Clinton’s campaign load, keeping her away from states that she was predicted to win, allowing her to sit on her lead, run out the clock, and coast to the predicted landslide victory. Many of her supporters, seeing the election as a fait accompli, stayed home on election day as the election was already over, or so they were told.

Trump and his supporters, on the other hand, knew the polls were bogus. This drove Trump to make a half-dozen campaign stops each day and motivated his voters to not allow “snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” to keep them away from the polls.

Live by phony numbers, die by phony numbers.

The second came immediately after the election. Trump won the Electoral College, the only vote that matters. Clinton won the popular vote, which doesn’t matter. Except to the “electoral deniers” in the media and on the left who insisted that Trump was an “illegitimate president” because he didn’t win the popular vote.

The upcoming Super Bowl pits the Patriots against the Falcons. Suppose the Falcons score more points, winning the game. Will they somehow be “illegitimate” champions if Tom Brady threw for more yards or completed more passes than Matt Ryan?

Yet the Democrats, by obsessing over irrelevant numbers and boycotting the inauguration as Rep. John Lewis and many colleagues did, beclown themselves over their denial of reality. Regardless of who they consider legitimate or not, Mr. Trump sits in the Oval Office while Mrs. Clinton walks in the woods of Westchester County.

Third are the inauguration numbers. The NY Times was quick to publish an article, “News footage appears to indicate that fewer people attended President Trump’s inauguration than President Obama’s in 2009.” Complete with side-by-side photos of the National Mall taken 45 minutes before the inauguration, or so they claim.

Of course, we are to believe the NY Times without question. Whether its stories of “hands up don’t shoot” or their now debunked hit piece on Secretary of Energy nominee Rick Perry. Forgive me if I am skeptical about their comparative photos.

How many attended Trump’s versus Obama’s inauguration? Who knows? Attendance is not taken at such events. Crowd size is based on images. Trump’s inauguration day was cloudy, preventing satellite images of the crowd. There were also endless threats of violence and riots, increased security concerns, onerous TSA style security procedures to get anywhere near the event, perhaps delaying Trump attendees from reaching the mall. Or keeping many away for fear of having their head cracked by some unhinged leftist.

As for the locals attending the inauguration, Clinton won over 90 percent of the Washington, DC vote, Trump only 4 percent. How many of those 90 percent will turn out for the inauguration of the candidate they said no to? The rainy weather might have dampened turnout as well. I could continue to speculate but to what end?

Just like Electoral College versus popular vote, only one counts. Does the size of the inauguration crowd change who sits in the Oval Office issuing and signing executive orders? Will the crowd size be grounds for impeachment? I would not be surprised of John Lewis or Maxine Waters raises this point in the future, harping on Trump’s “illegitimacy”, but again, so what?

Why didn’t the NY Times show this photo, a high resolution gigapixel image of the inauguration? I can’t count heads, but the National Mall and side streets sure look to be covered with people. Lots of them.

Were there more or less than for President Obama in 2009? Who knows and who cares? Other than those with an unhealthy obsession with irrelevant numbers. Whether poll numbers, popular vote totals, and now the inauguration crowd.

Next will be the Women’s March, how many attended, and whether more marched than attended Trump’s inauguration. Or how many people watch Trump’s first State of the Union address compared to Obama’s first such speech.

While Democrats and the media wring their hands and fixate on nonsensical numbers, Trump is hard at work, with “a phone and a pen”, quickly dismantling the myriad Obama bureaucratic legacies. By the time the media gets over their latest obsession, they won’t even realize all that Trump has accomplished.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

If you experience technical problems, please write to