Thursday, July 12, 2012

Soviet Propaganda, Infographic Style

In "How to Lie With Statistics", the author frequently comments about Soviet Propaganda and how bad it is. Being a member of a cynical generation, Huff's annoyance at an oppressive regime using data skewing to seem better than it was seemed almost quaint....I mean of course they were.

Even given my cynicism and lack of Russian skills, I have to admit these infographics from the Duke U library are pretty interesting.

This one's my favorite, because none of the bar heights make any sense:
Moral of the story?  Every time you share a bad infographic, the Communists win.


  1. Which reminds me of the old joke about the foot race between the Soviet Ambassador and the American Ambassador. The American Ambassador won. Pravda- or was it Izvestia- reported the race as follows: "The Soviet Ambassador finished second, but the American Ambassador finished next to last."

    Those pseudo-statistics from the Soviets were t the primary reason why, when Nikita Kruschchev said, "We will bury you," a lot of Americans believed him.

    From what I have heard from people who made the trip, a visit to the Soviet Union sufficed to show that the reality on the ground did match the glowing picture that the statistics painted.

  2. I was never behind the Iron Curtain, but was in rural Romania starting 1998.

    Lots of my friends in college believed that of course the Soviets exaggerated some - but so did we, so it was all even. Didn't you know that Nixon had special plans devised to concoct a national emergency, declare martial law, and become dictator? You were so naive if you didn't believe that. So of course the violent groups of the left - though highly regrettable that they had to resort to such things and they would certainly stop once we were all safe again - sorta had to be that way. For now.
    BTW, my brother still comes close to believing stuff like that. Not a lot (I hope), but a few things.

  3. BTW, "We will bury you" may only have originally meant "We will still be here when you have failed." The Politburo was apparently nervous that Khrushchev might provoke the Americans into war, but eventually settled down to like the quote.

  4. AVI - you are correct about the interpretation of the Khrushchev quote. But it did have the effect of hardening America resolve.

    I think the graph board is very clear. The higher the bar, the more you need to thank the Communist Party.

    Right now I'm reading Gary Francis Power's story of getting shot out of the sky over Russia and spending time in a KGB enclave in the heart of Moscow. Pretty interesting observations of his capitors, prison surroundings, Moscow streets, and generally sizing up the Communist State. Sort of "Gee, I really thought they had their act together better than this. Great bluffers!"

  5. Sponge-Headed Geologist
    Sort of "Gee, I really thought they had their act together better than this. Great bluffers!"

    That is not a bad summary of what I had heard from people I knew who had visited the Soviet Union.

    IIRC, the actual meaning of "We will bury you," as in we will outlast you, came out rather quickly after Nikita the K said it. The pseudo statistics at the time purported to prove that the Soviet system was growing faster than the US and would in time surpass us. The pseudo statistics added meat to the "we will bury you" boast.