Thursday, September 11, 2008


I'm not a political person. I sit on the fence a lot. I like to tease my sister about her thoughts on global warming, but the truth is, I'm a global warning agnostic. I feel that way about a lot of issues. Things are rarely black and white for me, although sometimes I wish they were. Life seems simpler for those who see only two colors.

Today as I was driving home, I passed two men standing at a busy intersection holding signs that claimed "9/11: Bush did it" and "9/11 was an inside job." All I could do as I drove slowly past them was roll my eyes and say, "Seriously?"

As I drove away, it occurred to me that they were serious. And that there were probably more just like them. That realization got me thinking about outliers.

In statistical analysis, it's common practice to remove any "outliers" before attempting to analyze data. Outliers are data points that fall way out of range with the rest of the data. By removing them, you get a more accurate analysis.

Those guys today? Outliers. Those people on the web who actually think that Obama was calling his opponent a pig? Outliers. Those other people on the web who think that Palin is somehow an unfit mother/unacceptable candidate because her teenage daughter is pregnant? Outliers.

Someone please tell me that those folks, although I'm sure well-intentioned, don't represent the whole of America. Please tell me that if we remove those extreme views to the right and left, what's left behind is a group of people who can at least entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, the other side has some valid points.

Change is the word this election year. But I think the change America wants has far less to do with what our politics are than the way that we practice them.

And that's all I have to say about that.