Good good good. You will be far more educated than most. I didn’t take statistics [so things like “R values” and stuff don’t make a darn bit of sense to me], but I learned it “on the job” and as I was asked to change various business metrics when compiling large amounts of data (I was processing diverse data in the millions from a few dozen incompatible sources [and making them compatible] via Excel 2000 and VBA using sheets and codes that I wrote)…
…and I didn’t like what it was doing to the results.
I could see what was happening. It’s not that it wasn’t accurate per se… but it was a shell game – a “don’t look at the Wizard behind the curtain” thing.
Sometimes the only clue that you might be being led in a wrong direction could be a SINGLE WORD in the report description…. if you even got that.
Ah! So i guessed right that it was R values smile emoticon [I just looked it up – and yup, that’s what I was asked to do].
The thing is, it was ‘mostly harmless’. it gave an air of positivity to the sales force so they could do their jobs enthusiastically, and it was for the higher ups to be smiling as they walked down the halls.
It didn’t really change things otherwise in a fundamental way but it was the statistical equivalent of “spin” – all for internal use; it wasn’t jiggling accounting figures and stuff like that.
Sliding windows. You can do SO MUCH with sliding windows of time and moving averages.
stock market is great for that one. They zoom you into ups and down on 1 or 2 day scales when the REALLY IMPORTANT information is hiding in the 9 month sliding windows.
Yeah and it is – it’s sad and pathetic that it’s funny and it *is* funny – in a wry sort of “yeah that’s just how it is, isn’t it?” sort of way.. Anything and everything can be (and is) a tool for bullshit. tongue emoticon
One time it did.
I got called over to a “special project” one time, because I was their Excel Guru. [Systems Analyst II – I didn’t even KNOW what that meant until a few months ago and looked it up… and i haven’t worked there in 14 years!]
I never got a college degree or special training.
Anyway, it was about drop samples. Sales people are supposed to drop off samples to doctors. The doctors often give them away to patients… many sell them them even though they’re not supposed to, but that wasn’t our problem.
It’s to encourage them to switch over, along with coupons for unrelated things like baseball games and stuff.
Anyway, I had to gather ALL of the drops for every segment of the country – every sales rep in every geographical area. This was 2001. I had Excel to work with but it’s my baby.
My job was to spot anomalies. it was not easy because the data WAS A MESS. Wow, it was a mess. Huge mess. Lots of it came in from scanned PAPERS… translating 1 to l and 0 to O – stuff like that.
But I did it. Took a few months. Cleaned up the data. Matched it up. I’m a perfectionist for accurate data, whatever they wanted me to do with it.
So then I found the outliers. This guy here in Texas, his numbers were -15. A reasonable range might be -3 – +3. Mind you – I ‘made up’ “What’s reasonable” based upon what “most people” seemed to do (it was about 8000 people in around 2000 districts, with 4 per district rotating in time).
All in all, there were a few dozen anomalies.
Each of them not only got FIRED but got ARRESTED for fraud. They were selling them out of their garages or to chiropractors, or just keeping them.
They were like Girl Scouts eating the cookies they were supposed to sell, or Den Mothers stealing money out of the Girl Scout cookie jar so the girls could get her a sandwhich.
Except… this is pharma. They got guys with black suits and black glasses to contend with tongue emoticon
Yup. And every phase has to be correct. Philosophy of data collection. Metrics. Process of data collection. Accuracy of data. What’s acceptable to do with averaging? normalizing? median? How will you report the data? What is the audience? What are their expectations? What image do you want to present in the final reports? How will it be received?
It’s a very human endeavor because it goes from human to human ultimately.
I love spotting BS in statistics, in Science, in Media, in economics. I get a giddy feeling because it’s like I can see right through to the day they decided to fudge a little. Tweak.
Not entirely lying, but not entirely truthful.
And I can sit back in my chair here and go, “AH HA! CAUGHT YOU!, you sneaky sneak tongue emoticon “
It’s true. I just enjoy searching for bias, whether it’s statistics, or historical accounts, or wherever. Bias doesn’t make someone dishonest, as bias is often unconscious. But it points to possible intent… and the “game of determining intent” can be fun at times.
I stopped watching TV about 2.5 years ago (except Doctor Who.. and sometimes I’ll sit with someone here at the house and see “Desperate Housewives” or some such nonsense because it’s what they’re watching – and then I get a kick out of interpreting _that_ data. Brain’s always going – it never shuts up).
I like going on the attack against MEMES. I hate when my favorites are misquotes. Bad Einstein quote – even if I like it, is still not something he said and so I try to track it down.
So many bad Tesla quotes that I had to compile all of his writings in a text file just so search it for verification.
Strange things I do for fun. Dead can’t speak for themselves so, I try to help.
Absurdism – i think it’s the only way to cope tongue emoticon I’m always happy for the same reason. The only thing I don’t like is when trusted people mislead with something that matters to me. That’s when I go on the attack.
I also accept my influence is limited but still that urge to throtle the writer of a misleading headline… or a person who writes something about history and just skips over their ignorance of 500AD – 1500AD with a few glib sentences… is hard to ignore tongue emoticon
Go for it. I support you. I don’t have – and never had – a problem with what i call “reasonable religions”. Be a good person. Don’t be an asshole. I think most major organized religions _generally_ have something similar in that way.
Plus you get to sing or dance and join up with other sometimes and it’s free psychology that generally ok.
But the cults… well, that’s something different. Their sales tactics are barbaric in what they do to convince people.
I think that’s why I don’t like advertising, marketing, politics, scientists or religious people entering into the political realm… JOIN US IN THE FIGHT AGAINST… [some misrepresented group].
Young people are especially suspectable too. Between the mid teens to mid-late 20s, people (at least in the West, I don’t know if it’s universal) seem to be easily brought into ideologies of various kinds.
Causes. Fights. Cults, etc.
They want someone to have all the answers. There’s always someone ready to pop up and give it to them.
Once an ideology holds, you don’t even know you’re a part of it yourself.
The scary thing too is, this is as much true for you and me, right here and here. It’s VERY HARD to figure out where our own ideologies come from.
I’ve been on a “deconstructivism” project on myself for about… 2.5 years now I think, along with other projects.
I’m trying to find out where my assumptions about truths came from. Just when I found one and think I’ve reached the bottom, I find others.
Finding the sources doesn’t invalidate them of course. But it’s weird to find out that something you’ve been saying for YEARS AND YEARS was really originally from a single person in a book somewhere, maybe a few years before you were born and became popular..
Same. Like, inner child stuff. I talk that way. I see the world as basically kids in adult bodies roleplaying adulthood based on patterns they incorporated as children playing. It’s a huge part of my way of thinking.
But where did I get that idea from?
One day, I applied my anal research onto myself to find out.
Turns out it was from two books that sat on the back of the toilet when I was a little boy. “Scripts people live’ I think was one, and the other was “I’m ok/You’re ok”.
I was like 8, 9, 10, 11 years old, whatever – sitting here, bored. I’d pick up these books that sat on the back of the toilet.
Read them a few times. Became a part of how I see things.
lol tongue emoticon – yeah it’s just weird to me when I found out because I never questioned the ideas. They were just, true. Fact. How things are. it was only a few months ago that I FINALLY figured out WHERE it came from. I haven’t even SEEN those books in 30+ years so it was cool to be like, OMG WOAH.
I love spotting scripts people are reading off of – and they don’t even know it.
When I end up in some kind of flame war disguised as a “debate”, I love predicting their next moves. “Is this the part of the script where I’m supposed to …” and such. Pisses them off, cools the flames a little tongue emoticon
Raised Methodist, with a kind of hippie-God view, no hell or anything, they kinda merged Science together with it all. So everything was metaphorical and perfectly fine.
Oooh, sorry about that. I’ve never heard good things kids when they were sent to Catholic school. One boy ended up becoming a chronic raver, entered into the psychodelic culture of the 90s and somehow managed to marry a girl from argentina, come back to the US, raving his way through the years.
Now in his late 30s, he’s still party-boy. He disappears for months at a time from Facebook, only to come up with some new adventure he was on. He started running and never stopped but he’s making the most of it.