Editor’s note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. In this latest edition,professor of political science and executive director of the Center—Dr. Paul Kengor—interviews Herb Meyer, who from 1981-87 served as special assistant to CIA director Bill Casey. Meyer was Casey’s right-hand man at the CIA in the 1980s, where he joined Casey and Ronald Reagan as a central player in the take-down of the Soviet Union. Meyer’s latest eBook is “How to Analyze Information.”
Dr. Paul Kengor: Herb Meyer, you’re a favorite here at The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. You did our Ronald Reagan Lecture in February 2009, which was truly captivating (click here to watch). You did one of our Freedom Readers lectures last year (click here). And you’re also no stranger to V&V Q&A (click here). We’re excited to have you back for another V&V Q&A, this one on your latest project, an eBook version of your fascinating, How to Analyze Information. First, tell us about How to Analyze Information. What’s it about and when and where did you get the motivation or inspiration? What’s your goal?
Herb Meyer: We’re living through an information revolution. It’s wonderful—but we can drown in it if we don’t learn how to use this information properly. Information is the raw material of knowledge, and in How to Analyze Information I’m trying to explain the step-by-step process of turning information into understanding. In short, this is a guide that shows readers how to think.
Kengor: No doubt, this work is prompted by your career in intelligence. Give us a glimpse of your very unique experience in the 1980s, and how that surely helped lead to this book.
Meyer: Well, when I came to the CIA during the Reagan administration, I discovered that we had an overwhelming amount of data about the Soviet Union. But the agency really hadn’t pulled it all together into a coherent pattern. Once we started to do that, we saw that the Soviet economy was on the edge of collapse. Armed with that intelligence, President Reagan figured out how to push the Soviet economy to its breaking point and end the Cold War. It was a classic case of turning information into understanding, and then into policy.
Kengor: And you had a little something to do with that. You’re too humble to mention this, so I’ll inform the audience for you. You won the prestigious U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal because of a prophetic estimate you made in a November 1983 memo. You predicted that if current trends continued, “we’re going to win the Cold War.” Clearly, you know something about analyzing information. What did you learn from that, which, in turn, you’ve applied to this work?
Meyer: No matter what the issue at hand, the first question—which all too often gets skipped—is: What do I need to know? The second is: What information will tell me this? The third is: How do I get it? The fourth question is: What does this information mean? And so forth. As I say, it’s really a step-by-step process whether you’re dealing with missiles, economic productivity, health care, tax rates—or where’s the best Chinese restaurant in town. Once you know what these steps are, and how to take them, you’re on the way to reaching your goal.
Kengor: Who or what audiences do you hope to reach?
Meyer: I wrote How to Analyze Information primarily for students at the high school and college levels. From what I can see, no one teaches them the step-by-step process of thinking.
Kengor: Clearly, you see something lacking there. Where are our schools failing? Are students learning critical reasoning?
Meyer: We’ve got some wonderful public schools with wonderful, hard-working teachers. But mostly our public schools have been turned into left-wing propaganda machines. I’m not exaggerating: It’s appalling how many of our children are being taught that the worst thing that ever happened to Earth is humanity, because we pollute and use up resources. It’s dangerous nonsense.
Kengor: Why are home-schooled students in particular a target audience?
Meyer: The home-schooling movement will save us, and I’m not kidding. I meet with home-schoolers all the time, and it seems to me they’re leaning more, and learning better, than their public-school counterparts. They’re not just learning stuff; they’re learning how to think for themselves.
Kengor: The most remarkable thing about this eBook is the price. It’s only $1.99. Herb, I thought you were a better capitalist than that. This is practically charity.
Meyer: Thanks for noticing. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for teachers to recommend, and for students to purchase. How to Analyze Information won’t make me rich, but if I can show our students how to think it’ll be worth it.
Kengor: Where do we buy the book? Amazon? Do you have a website?
Meyer: It’s available wherever eBooks are sold, and the website is: www.HowtoAnalyzeInformation.com.
Kengor: While we’re at this, you’ve also turned your book, The Cure for Poverty, into a $1.99 eBook. Tell us briefly about that.
Meyer: Simply put, we’ve figured out how to rid the world of poverty. It’s the free market and—once again—our students aren’t being taught about this. So I wrote The Cure for Poverty to teach how the free market works and how entrepreneurs create jobs. The website is: www.TheCureforPoverty.com.
Kengor: Last thing, Herb. You lecture all over the country. If someone would like to reach you to do an event, what’s the best way?
Kengor: Herb Meyer, you’re a fascinating man. Thanks for your work for this country and all you continue to do.
Meyer: Thank you.