Garbage in = Garbage out

This realization hit me hard this morning as I read again the conclusions reached by some well-educated, well-meaning people. The truism, about garbage in – garbage out, applies not only to digital computers, but to the finest computer of all, the human mind. Our decisions are only as good as the data we base them on.

If we get bad data from people we trust, we are set up for failure. No matter how sincere we are and how hard we work, our efforts are being booby-trapped by the falsehoods we unknowingly use and propagate to others.

If we get our information from the press, or TV, we are already sliding down the slippery slope of biased reporting, and we have little idea of what is happening to us because there is no channel that reveals its bias. It is hard enough to identify the real source of the information they purport to pass on.

When we read a weblog, we can generally get an idea of the author’s bias, but we still need to see links to the original source documents. Blogs that link to other blogs are only useful if they lead to source documents. Voting records for candidates can be found on US government sites which list the records for all Senators and Congressmen. Quoting a candidate is only believable if a link to the original, unedited transcript is shown.

Even the best educated, and most humane person can come up with totally unreal solutions to the problems facing our nation if they do not have, or choose not to have access to source data. Listening to “experts” is relying on secondhand or thirdhand data.

It doesn’t matter which candidate you voted for or who you believe is right. If you do not look for yourself, you are operating on somebody else’s data.

There are those who totally deny that the Holocaust ever happened. There are also those who feel that the US had no right to interfere in the domestic affairs of Iraq. If you have the stomach for sixty pages of mass graves with miles of body bags, broken skeletons, and grieving parents, take a look the victims of Saddam’s regime.

This is what was happening in Iraq, before we intruded on the “peaceful” activities in this kingdom of horrors. This site has been getting a lot of hits lately. It may be slow to download. The photos may explain why so many Iraqis are willing to accept help from the US and put their lives on the line to rebuild Iraq, in spite of terrorist threats.

I do not care to suggest what conclusions you should draw from your observations of life, but I am going to suggest that anyone who wishes to help the United States to remain free should take the time to find out what the actual facts are before slandering those who are working hard to make sure that we never have to endure scenes like this in our country.

As a final note, there are others who now say we should listen to Osama Bin Laden’s advice. I suggest they read the transcripts of all of the messages he has sent us, and judge whether they are ready to accept the infidel’s fate that he plans for us.

I think that most sane people can make correct decisions if they have access to the actual facts. If someone has access to the truth and still connot see right from evil, then the problem is not with the data, it lies within the computer person’s mind.

The best solution going forward is not to attack people of good will who have different opinions, but to dig deep and see what information they are basing their decision on. Compare it with your own after giving your own data the same test. The results may surprise you. It may even lead to a rational discussion.

Good luck.

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0 Responses to Garbage in = Garbage out

  1. Sallie says:

    Very Good advise…most, I have followed. My decisions, posted lately have been based on hard cold{sometimes HOT} facts. Reading has been a pass-time well into the night. It will be interesting to see what the election shows. Most people do NOT read all of the facts they listen and watch their neighbor. Ultimately our votes, will turn the tide of our Great Nation and ultimately the ways of the world. I hope people vote and think more than just throw their vote into a machine. It will be very late night, I fear. Thanks for your views as always.

  2. Carrie says:

    While I know about the abuse Hussein inflicted on his people, to me, the Iraq war is still a modern day Vietnam.

    In any case, I agree with you that we each have an obligation to inform ourselves and do the best we can with our brains. But therein often lies the problem. I can’t blame people for limited or non-existent critical thinking skills though.

    Finally, your last paragraph reminded me of something Canada’s former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau practiced and believed in. He said that it’s fine to disagree with a person’s politics, but one should never slam the individual on a personal level for his/her beliefs. Good advice, as you’ve stated, for everyone.

  3. George Fuechsel says:

    I am reluctantly anticipating that someone will burst my baloon. Background: Back in 1958 and 1959 , long before computers were part of everyday life, I taught IBM computer classes (specifically the 305 RAMAC } to IBM’s customers in New York . At the time I had cleverly( I thought)come up with the expression ” Garbage in / Garbage out ” to emphasize the importance of planning for and testing all data and processes associated with each application.
    Since that time I have believed, and asked friends and family to believe that I coined the phrase. Did I ?

  4. Unless it’s on the internet, it’s not true. šŸ™‚

    You may, indeed have coined that phrase, and posting this comment has stuck a little tag about that in the fabric of online history.

    Now when someone Googles, “Garbage in / Garbage out”, there is a finite chance that your claim will show up in the first twenty pages or so.

    One of the most interesting things about weblogs and the internet in general,is that data, once posted, has considerable persistence. A weblog post can be located for years with a search engine.

    An article in a newspaper or a magazine, if not stored online, is virtually dead within a month.

    The other aspect of weblogs is that your claim can be factchecked in a matter of hours. Once a claim such as this starts to propagate, it will raise very other GiGo creator on the net and we could be deluged with comments from others who discovered and named that phenomenon in those same interesting years.

    We might even find that Richard Feynman originated the phrase. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had…

  5. John Tomeny says:

    George, Three years later Wikipedia says that you did.


    “The expression Garbage In, Garbage out was initiated as a teaching mantra by George Fuechsel, IBM 305 RAMAC technician/Instructor, later to evolve into the aphorism GIGO.”

  6. Al Joseph says:

    – George, make that almost four years and no-one is disputing. Time for your own page on Wikipedia: George Fuechsel, inventor of garbage in garbage out (GIGO) ! I set one up, but you or your kin should edit it to add some biographical info and a picture.

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