I have returned from my conference where I gave a half-stunned audience my lecture The Top Six Fallacies In Statistics. But though I labored long and hard, it wasn’t all work as the picture to the right proves.
There I am, relaxing by the beach. The meeting guidelines announced a “business causal” dress code, which I think you have to agree I nailed. I mean, I’m not even wearing a waistcoat. It’s nice to kick back and put on some old thing every now and then.
Fifty-percent of my audience, as I say, were sympathetic, but it’s my fault the other fifty-percent weren’t. See, I gave my two favorite examples of bad statistics (linked on my Classic Posts page), which are (1) Statistics “prove” that even brief exposure to an American flag is likely to turn one into a Republican, and (2) Statistics “prove” that attendance at a Fourth of July parade turns one into a Republican.
There is a minor industry of these kinds of papers, all produced by sincere academics who, after polling their friends, colleagues and neighbors and failing to discover even one of these strange creatures, ask how it is they (the strange creatures) are created. Since everything that comes into existence has a cause, some thing must be causing people to turn into Republicans. But what?
I can report it isn’t brief exposure to flags nor parade attendance. More likely it’s exposure to over-confident over-egoed (yes, over-ego-ed) intellectuals who over-populate certain university departments.
Incidentally, Yours Truly is not a registered Republican. He is not a registered anything (though once, many years ago, he was briefly registered as a Democrat).
Anyway, my talk started on contested grounds, which would have been all right, but I happened to couple those prescient observations with several others the gist of which was that Leviathan had fallen into the bad habit of relying on evidence which accorded with its desires and not with the truth.
It turned out that a good chunk of my audience belonged to a company which makes its living by selling products and services to bring firms “into compliance” with certain of our beneficent government’s many and increasing regulations. They liked the evidence which caused Leviathan to call and rely on them.
This proves the maxim that capitalism is bound to fail when it becomes cozy with government (right, health insurance companies?). But I did make friends with the other half of the group, which were members of those firms which were being forced to comply and weren’t well pleased with the expensive idea.
On the whole, I think a success. There were meals (a variety of aquatic life), cigars (Ashton for me), and whiskey (Maker’s Mark) with friends, entertaining talks, and quiet meetings where we planned our cabal’s next moves. Thanks very much to those who made it possible!