Bad Ideas, Knowledge, Logic, Reason, Scientific Method(s)

Our Age of Ridiculous Statistics

(About a 4 minute read)

The beautiful young lady who runs “Garnet’s Virtual Salon” — when she’s not making New England sharp, snarky comments on Café Philos — put up a post a while back on the astounding fact that Kindle actually attempts to predict — right down to the minute — the time you will take in reading the remainder of your book or selection!

The gods! The gods, I say!  Can there be any better, more concise illustration of the singular fact we are living in The Age of Ridiculous Statistics?

If that Kindle stat alone is not enough for you, then please consider the alarming fact that it is now soon to be known that fully 82.6% of all condom ads that use rhyme and rhythm to deliver their messages are of Indian origin — according to what will be the 2019 CIA Fact Book.

I’m sure of it.  I am absolutely sure that, at the rate we’re going, knowledge of the above fact is imminent.  You can scoff at me today, but it won’t be long before you’ll be scoffing at me tomorrow too you’ll be finding your own wholly unnecessary stats.  Assuming you haven’t noticed a fair share of them already.

Beyond merely being ridiculous, I suspect — but cannot prove — such stats might be dangerous, leading to contempt for all statistics, including accurate and important ones.

Yet, here I must responsibly mention the irony that we not only live in a stat-drenched age, but that most of us could not pass a remedial test on what stats are, how they are collected, how to analyze them, and how to avoid misanalysing them.  In short, we are afloat in a sea we cannot swim.

You see people say uniformed things about statistics just almost as often as you see ridiculous statistics.  For instance: How often has some seemingly knowledgeable person told you that the 2016 presidential election demonstrated how inaccurate are election polls — since all the polls falsely predicted Clinton would win?

Yet, statements like that precisely reveal how even intelligent people are so often under-educated when it comes to statistics today.  The truth is, Clinton won the popular vote just as the polling predicted she would.  What the polling missed was she would lose the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote.  And the polls missed that because they didn’t even look at the question.

So far as I can see, anyone — anyone — who tries to make deep sense of this world today without resort to statistics (accurate and important statistics) might as well be living 3,000 years ago in the Middle East trying to figure out why the crop yields are a little less year after year after year.  Civilization might someday hang in the balance of most of us being able to discern trends in what is happening to us, and then taking appropriate action.

Turning to a more important topic, have you ever visited “Garnet’s Virtual Salon”?  Over the ages, Garnet has been one of the most frequent commentators on Café Philos — under the name of “Cades62” — a name that happens to be the one her mother and father gave her a birth, for both of them were passionate bloggers.  But that’s a fact so little known that even she herself is in denial of it.

She has stuck with me right on through my occasional lengthy hiatuses.  She even stuck with me despite my concerned offer to pay for her getting psychiatric help for sticking with me.  And all during the time she’s stuck with me, she has kept a blog — but it’s been fully under-viewed.

Her posts are outstanding — usually outstanding poetry — but so infrequent that one has good cause to subscribe to her blog, rather than just bookmark it, and thus risk returning again and again before anything new is posted.

Here’s her blog, one of the sweetest little secrets on the internet. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Our Age of Ridiculous Statistics”

  1. “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” That snarky quote was spoken by Mark Twain. So true, Paul, what you say about statistics, how they are mis-understood, and how they can mislead. Thanks for the promotion of my blog! I’m happy to have stuck with yours, Paul!

    Like

  2. Tried to leave a comment on Garnet’s latest post (“RAIN”), but not sure it took, probably because of the CAPTCHA procedure one must navigate. Apparently CAPTCHA is supposed to serve as a security gate, which I thought I cleared, but the comment didn’t show up. At any rate, I agree that her post is “outstanding,” but I probably won’t re-visit because of CAPTCHA (I’ve come across CAPTCHA on a few other blogs, and the hassle just isn’t worth the trouble).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear that. Captcha has always been a minor inconvenience to me, but to each their own. I hope, under the circumstances, she will turn it off — assuming it can be turned off. Either that or convert her blog to WordPress, which uses a much better spam catcher.

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      1. Thanks for your reply, Paul. Frankly, I don’t see what good CAPTCHA does. As far as I can tell, a spammer can navigate CAPTCHA the same as you can, so what’s the point? I hope she takes your suggestion of converting to WordPress, which does the job without the hassle.

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      2. Captcha is geared towards robots — which are what places the most spam that gets placed on blogs. What it won’t do is make it easy for the legit poster. Askimet, the system used by WordPress, is just as effective at catching spam and much easier on legit posters.

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