Spin Sucks

I hate the notion of “spin” when applied to articulating what’s going on.  I especially hate spin when it gets in the way (in the middle of, in front of) a decision.  (Picture of me calmly, but forcefully, saying “just tell me what the fuck is going on and we’ll deal with it.”)

Tom Evslin has an awesome post up today titled Decide First, Spin Second.  He recounts the story of a small nuclear crisis that was occurring in Vermont when Richard Snelling was governor and Tom was Secretary of Transportation.  Snelling started the cabinet meeting off with the following statement:

First we have to decide what the right thing to do is; then we’ll think about the politics.  Otherwise we’ll just confuse ourselves.”

Absolutely correct.

  • Unfortunately, we can never completely escape from spin. Even a simple statement of “raw” facts will inevitably involve some spin. After all, our perception of even objective facts is driven by the angle at which we observe a problem.

    The latest NASA shuttle mission briefings are great lessons on the vast spectrum of spin that is possible. NASA is of course notorious for its spin. But the “objective” media are no-less susceptible to a variety of forms of spin. For example, NASA clearly stated that the latest foam problem meant that the shuttle won’t fly again until the problem is fixed, but the media was insistent that the term “Grounded” needed to be used.

    Somehow, the image of an entrepreneur without any spin conjures up the image of the emperor without his clothes.

    — Jack Krupansky

  • I think what this post is really saying is don’t add an unnecessary layer of complexity (a la Seth Levine’s recent posts) during the decision making process. But “spin,” is, as the first commenter wrote, a reality of life. As I just wrote in my own post, the postmodernists have won and now everything is infused with endless perspectives and deconstructions of reality. Instead of hoping for a spin-less world (or decision making situation) I think it’s better to figure out how to “manage the spin.” And the first step in that direction is for everyone to get their biases on the table, for there is no such thing as an objective opinion.

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