Authors Who Avoid Hasty Conclusions

So much of the information that we encounter today, especially via the internet, is only partially true, if not completely bogus. As such, I admire the work of selected authors over the past few decades. They remind me to check out what seems to be common knowledge, for the truth the lies beyond it:

Self-help author Denis Waitley observed Albert Einstein always scored quite well in math and science. Some “historians” noted that his top grade of six on a scale of one to six dropped to a level of one from one year to the next, and they arbitrarily assumed he had started to flunk those courses. The school had reversed its grading system, however, to make the highest grade a one instead of a six.

For decades, no one had bothered to examine the original “evidence” leading to the proclamation that Einstein was an academic failure.

Pop Trends

In her book, Backlash, author Susan Faludi told how “pop” market forecasters made a fortune by reviewing popular media, such as newspapers, television, movies and so forth, and then concluding what trends are looming in America. The extreme fallacy with this method of forecasting, Faludi noted, is that it tends to promulgate that which only a handful of editors, publishers and directors believe or perpetrate. No hard data supports the “forecasts.”

One such forecaster was credited with coining the term “cocooning” for the 1980s, where working men and women, particularly women, decided to spend more time in the household. Faludi shows that the assertion has no relationship to U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics that indicated an increase in the number of women in the workforce and in the time each spent outside the home.

Nevertheless, corporations paid hefty sums to be told where we were all headed next. Because many other factors can obscure results, if the predicted “trend” then doesn’t help the corporate customer, it is rarely linked back to the forecaster. Such companies would do better, observed Faludi, to simply consult the U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources that independently collect data, presumably with no bias.

Dastardly Dads?

Faludi also uncovered this: The “fact” that an epidemic of divorced fathers refused to pay child care, which is a falsehood that distorted reality for decades. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the great majority of fathers with joint custody of their children – nearly 90% – paid their entire support obligation, in full and on time. Some 80% of fathers with visitation privileges, but not joint custody, paid regularly. Only when the courts deprive fathers of both custody and access do support levels drop to under 50%, the figure mistakenly attributed to all fathers.

Despite the strong correlation between a man’s ability to have joint custody or visitation with his children and his willingness to make regular support payments, most legislators and judges didn’t seem to see it. Their automatic and immediate response in cases of nonpayment was to blame the male, instead of enforcing the man’s right to visit his children and encouraging father-child relationships.

By continuing to make the majority of child custody awards to women, the courts systematically disregarded the role fathers played and all but ensured that the children would have adjustment problems. Even if a man legally wins visitation rights, his ability to visit his kids isn’t guaranteed. Judges don’t often put uncooperative mothers in jail. So, fathers end up going to court repeatedly – a costly venture. Sometimes after many attempts to visit their children, some fathers withhold support payments to force what the courts will not.

The media, charging to no one’s rescue and in search of thirty second sound bites, label such fathers as deadbeat, or worse. Hence, the widespread misconception about the true nature of what’s going on in this critical arena continues even to this day.

Abounded Influence

In his acclaimed 1990 book, Agents of Influence, author Pat Choate debunked the myth that the Japanese, as a whole, significantly contributed to the development of innovation and technology as evidenced by their annual lead in the number of U.S. patents they had filed and obtained. As Choate explained, the Japanese tilted the economic playing field, via the ruthless art of “patent flooding.”

When a U.S. firm, for example, applied for a patent representing an innovation on which the Japanese wanted to capitalize, Japanese firms issued a flurry of patent applications that surrounded the technology at hand. Thus, the original developer or inventor could not market his invention  without getting clearance from the Japanese, who could tie up an invention in the courts simply because they held nuisance patents for a component or contributing element to the major patent.

After decades of such tactics, and with China included as a leading culprit, the U.S. government still has failed to install comprehensive, necessary protections to safeguard the toil and genius of the original American patent applicant. As such, our government has unwittingly contributed to the redistribution of billions of dollars in royalties and revenues to others.

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Posted by Jeff Davidson

Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony.

Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including:
* Managing the Pace with Grace®
* Achieving Work-Life Balance™
* Managing Information and Communication Overload®

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