The game of selective extrapolation is played by many; there was a time when such a methodology — otherwise known as taking something “out of context” — was with simplicity and bluntness identified for what it is: dishonest. But in this day and age, it has come to be accepted, and even applauded, for such characteristics as “aggressiveness” and “smart play”.
Once, in an age where integrity and fidelity were upheld as character traits worthy of emulating, there was an affirmative duty to “tell the whole story” — that if X quoted from a document in fragmented form, it was one’s duty to provide the entirety of the context in order to be “fair”. Perhaps it is the adversarial nature of the legal arena which allowed for this standard to change; or perhaps it is just part of the greater deterioration of the culture; in any event, in modern times, it is an accepted practice to merely take sentences, words, concepts and phrases out of context, and twist and mangle them to whatever form and usage will gain one’s advantage.
In Federal Disability Retirement law, especially in the context of a denial issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one will often find the use of selective extrapolation — of taking a lengthy, comprehensive medical report of a doctor, and choosing to quote an almost-irrelevant statement which seems to support a negative or opposite conclusion from that which the doctor has stated. At first glance, one merely scratches one’s head with puzzlement; but after the initial shock, it must be recognized for what it is: an attempt to merely justify the denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application.
How to rebut it? Fortunately, the rebuttal is not made to the same individual who played the game of selective extrapolation; that would obviously be an act of futility. The rebuttal must be forceful and head-on; call it for what it is, and provide the correct content and context.
In Federal Disability Retirement law with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits. In order to do so, one must maintain a level of integrity which reveals the sharp contrast to those who engage in such games.
It is sometimes difficult to refrain from playing the other person’s game; but in the end, let’s hope that age-old standards of integrity and fair play will continue to win out.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire