A glaring example of how economic statistics are being manipulated came across my desk today, and I had to share it with readers. Today’s copy of the USA Today had an optimistic article (see first link below) entitled “Home Sales rose a sweet 5.1% in Feb” (p. 3B). This article proclaimed “Sales of existing homes jumped 5.1% in February, reversing the decline in January…” This rosy report was based on data gathered by the National Association of Realtors and it added that home sales in the Midwest (my region of the nation) rose 1%.

Then I read my local newspaper’s account about the same report.

The Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reprinted an Associated Press article (see second link) about the same National Association of Realtors report re: existing national home sales in February.  Its headline said “Midwest homes sales plummet 18%.” This article about the very same report couldn’t have been more different than the rosy USA Today article. The AP story reported the very grim news that existing home sales in February, as reported by the National Association of Realtors, “slipped 10% from a year ago” on a national basis and that the Midwest home sales were down “18 percent from February last year.” It also reported truly grim data from various Midwest cities. Chicago home sales for February were down 65.3% from February, 2008 while Wichita sales were down 34.3%, Indianapolis sales were down 28.8%, Des Moines sales were down 28.2% and Kansas City sales were down 26.2%. I looked at both print articles and felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone.” One report indicated an economic recovery was beginning and the other seemed to indicate the nation was sinking into a Depression. Both articles were based on the same data in the same report. They couldn’t possibly both be right, so I delved deeper via an internet websearch and located the source of the discrepancy.

The rosy USA Today story (which was also available at the FOX News and CBS News sites) was based on a seasonally adjusted version of the data. The Associated Press story was based on the actual data. The AP story told us the real-world facts, while the USA Today story presented what was essentially a fantasy version of the facts. It must have taken draconian “seasonal adjustment” of the actual data to turn a truly grim report into a rosy one. I think the “seasonally adjusted” version is a statistical effort to obscure the actual data and hide the truth re: how quickly the economy is deteriorating. In many places where honesty is more of a valued standard, the “seasonally adjusted” report would be called “lying.” It appears that  USA Today, CBS and FOX News (and perhaps other media sources) presented the whitewashed version of the facts either (A) because they were duped or (B) they are actively trying to hide the truth from Americans. You can decide for yourselves which option you think is the case.

Another reporting discrepancy surfaced today (see the third link below). The most recent Zogby poll reports President Obama’s ratings have dropped to approximately “50-50” even as other polls say his approval rating is much higher. Again, who is right? Polls can differ based on sampling periods, how the question as asked or how the sampled population was “adjusted” or “weighted” in the final report. If a poll is “weighted” or “adjusted” (like the home sales data above), then you are being given a “massaged” version of the data, not the actual data. What polls are telling us the truth? Who knows?

The US Labor Dept. also has a statistical office which reports such data as unemployment figures, inflation rates, etc. These government statistical reports have long been suspected of being “massaged” to report a more rosy picture of the economy that really exists. Many analysts I’ve seen cited at www.financialsense.com (a source where many economic/financial/monetary articles are posted) comment on the fact that the inflation data has been altered by so many “hedonic” adjustments that the reported “official” figure is always considerably lower than the actual (higher) rate of real-world inflation. Many analysts whose articles I’ve read at the aforementioned site recommend www.shadowstats.com as an accurate source of the real inflation and unemployment rates. The last several presidential administrations have “adjusted” the inflation data so the actual numbers are not reported. This allows governments of either party to deceive the voters into thinking the economy is behaving better than it really is. After reading the articles at these websites, it is easy to come to the conclusion that current “official” inflation and unemployment figures would have been called “lies” in the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations.

Matthew 24:5 and 11 warn of widespread deception in the latter days. Revelation 12:9 adds the “whole world” will be deceived in the end of our age. II Timothy 3:1-13 is a prophecy about the conditions that will be present in the latter days of our age. Verse 13 states: “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (emphasis added). The above news items and comparisons should confirm that some of the “deceivers” of our time prepare work in official positions and others write articles in the media. The world calls deceivers in official positions: “spin doctors.” God calls them liars. Their fate is revealed in Revelation 21:8.

Be careful what you read and believe. The deceptions of our age will get “worse and worse,” just as Paul prophesied in II Timothy 3:13.