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lies, damned lies, and the “S” word

February 6, 2010

the devil's sentences

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“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts—
for support rather than for illumination.”
Andrew Lang

“Equations are the devil’s sentences.” — Stephen Colbert

“Like other occult techniques of divination,
the statistical method has a private jargon
deliberately contrived to obscure
its methods from nonpractitioners.

Ashley-Perry Statistical Axioms quotes

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hate stats

so many wasted erasers

i hate statistics. i hate it so much i’ve re-named it “sadistics.” i hate it so much i’d rather blog about it than DO it for class. i loathe it so hard my husband had a good laugh at me. He came around the corner to find me with damp washcloth and spray bottle in hand, circling a kitchen table splayed out with books and erasers and graphing calculator and he cracked up. He noted that i was purposefully avoiding doing the homework by cleaning the kitchen chairs. that’s right, i’d rather wash wooden legs with Murphy’s oil and scrub food & dinner fart-laden seat upholstery than sit in front of numbers and formulas that after awhile, just start to look like an invasion of picnic ants marching across a description of Greek whoredom.

joke circa 1982 from Todd Rungdren

humor circa 1983 Todd Rungdren song

My eyes begin to gloss over, i let my cheek slump into my hand. Propped up on my elbow, i allow my mouth to go slack and open into a balloon-shaped maw, all in an effort to allow more oxygen to get into the situation. Anything to tease the possible formula i’m supposed to use out of the useless and impertinent question being asked in the longest series of lamest story problems of all time. On any standardized test. Ever. i could be in the same state if i drank 3 fingers of bourbon. And i’d be having way more fun.

i’ve begun creatively insulting the theorists and their theorems. Chebyshev’s theorem? Nope. Chubbynut’s Nonsense (it’s not my fault his first name is “Pafnuty”). No joke.  It would take a Russian mad man with a crater on the moon named after him to make me do this crap. In order to get a BS Psychology. Emphasis on the BS.

i want to stab myself in the boxplot with an ogive. that, of course, being a joke that perhaps only someone subjected to statistics would be able to understand.

Which leads me to the only fun thing i learned so far . . .

Because i HAD to know the word origin for the ogive curve, turns out Wikipedia has this to say:

“In statistics, an ogive is a graph showing the curve of a cumulative distribution function (which, for the normal distribution, resembles one side of an Arabesque or ogival arch.”

An ogival or pointed arch is one of the defining characteristics of Gothic architecture.

Ogives are also used descriptively in ballistics or aerodynamics where an ogive is a pointed, curved surface mainly used to form the approximately streamlined nose of a bullet or other projectile as well as the complex ogives in missiles and aircraft.

Ogives are used in applied physical science, engineering, architecture, woodworking, geology, and yes – even statistics.

That concludes this episode of nerd notes . . . and now, you may have a better insight to my bad attempt at a stats joke, which is like, a monstrous exercise in futility. It does it all on its own. Writes itself, honey.

But what are the postitives? Will i be a better Poker player? i prefer Cranium. i get to act, solve puzzles and play with clay. Better able to understand and plot risk-analysis? i only do dangerous stuff to myself, not to others. (most of the time.) More equipped to look at those numerous, tiresome graphs, dots, squiggles, pointed notation marks and fluffy numbers and make perfect sense of psychological research. i. fucking. doubt it, son.

In fact, if it weren’t for Joe holding my hand through some of these problems and talking me through it (and away from mathematical ledges) i’m certain i wouldn’t be getting any of it at all.

Now let me make something clear . . . i don’t consider myself a dumb bunny. And to his credit, the teacher is excellent, clear, procedural, by the book and full of examples. Why my tiny squirrel brain can’t wrap my head around it all is well, probably mostly due to my obstinance. (SEE above paragraphs)

Then there’s the pretty graph making program called MiniTab (MinorStab) which i have to use in order to complete my Math Labs. I’ve decided i don’t want to trek out to school, find and pay for parking, hang out in a computer lab for an indefinite amount of time, be hungry, cranky and confused and have no means of escape, so i “rented” the program for 6 months for $30. Which is about all i’ll need to get through two semesters of it. And i can drink wine while i load data sets. Yeah. You got my number.

So—i’ll slog my way through it. I feel a low grade B fever coming on.


In the meantime here’s some fun stats from Graph Jam.com

prince graphuniversity-education

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