Dogs have taught me lessons that should have been obvious years ago. One of them is that how you say something is frequently more important than what you say. I can tell my dog she is an ugly bitch, but if I say it nicely she wags her tail. However, I don't recommend guys trying this with their spouses or girlfriends. Always consider your audience.

Quoting statistics can give stupidity a measure of importance that it may not deserve. For example: "One seventh of your life is spent on Mondays." Yikes. I need to pay more attention to what I do on Mondays.

Statistics is good at misleading people by giving emphasis to irrelevancy: "The median age in the United States is 32 years old, while the median age in Mexico is 16." Wow! Here the emphasis is on the difference, but it's not the difference that is of concern. Each country does face a unique and significant set of problems because its own median age group, but these problems do not arise from the difference. Averages can also be very misleading. For example, if you put a man's head in an oven and his feet in a freezer, on the average he is comfortable.

Facts, although interesting, may also be misleading. "I have these friends Bob and Sharon. Sharon is almost two feet taller than Bob." Holy cow! Impressive until you consider that Sharon is an adult and Bob is her 6 years old son. There is a version of an old saying that goes: "I have seen the truth and it makes no sense." We try to make sense out of facts, even if we don't have all the facts. It's human nature. And we rarely have all the facts. As some wit once said, "You can't tell which way the train went by looking at the tracks."

I was addressing a large group of prospective students and parents at my college when a parent inquired about how long it would take to graduate if someone had dual majors. I replied that it is almost impossible to complete a dual major in four years. I then added that it took me 19 years to finish my undergraduate degree. I left out the part about my 14 years in the military before finishing school. Why let facts detract from leaving a big impression.

One frequently used phrase, "All things being equal..." is a really stupid assumption that I hear all too often in science, math, statistics, economics, and many other disciplines. How often do all things remain equal or constant? "All things being equal, fat people use more soap."

Communication is the most versatile and powerful tool man has at his disposal. "The pen is mightier than the sword" was written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton back in 1839 in a play he was writing. Communication can be, and is, used for many purposes that are harmful and/or inappropriate. Even the careful application of terror is a form of communication. Most of the world's problems can be blamed on poor communication. We tend to believe those who communicate the most eloquently, regardless of whether they are right or full of crap. As one Jack Handy wannabe said, "I once heard the voice of God. It said 'Vrrrrmmmmm.' Unless it was just a lawn mower."