Saturday, December 13, 2008

Britney Spears' Rack

Ben Goldacre exposes the nonsensical equations generated by William Hartston about, not to put too fine a point on it, Britney Spears' rack. Fair enough, I suppose, though I'm not sure it does that much harm to the cause of science. But how much harm have the idiot wonks in Downing Street done with their breaking of their boss's rules about the use of statistics? Goldacre wants to preserve the purity of science, Hartston and the wonks want to corrupt it to their own ends. This raises the question: is there purity in science? It would be nice to think it is represented by the wonderfully dessicated - and named - Sir Michael Scholar of the UK Statistics Authority. And I cannot ignore the fact that Primo Levi clung on to thoughts of the periodic table in Auschwitz. But I'm not sure the line between the pure and the human is ever all that clear.

13 comments:

  1. is there purity in science?

    I think Sir Mike hits the nail on the head , the aim of purity is in the method.

    "I hope you will agree that the publication of prematurely released and unchecked statistics is corrosive of public trust in official statistics and incompatible with the high standards which we are all seeking to establish. "

    Sounds to me like an actual public official we can be proud off.

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  2. it screws up the cause of adult numeracy.

    forget bras, buy elastoplast!

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  3. That's an odd equation:

    O=NP(20C+B)/75 .

    It entails that if zero nipples are exposed (N=0), then the naughtiness factor is always zero, and not 123.2 as The Sun claim for Britney's Roberto Cavalli dress.

    I wonder what the distribution of naughtiness factors is amongst the population of celebrity-dress appearances. Perhaps economists think it's log-normal, whilst econophysicists accept it's a power law.

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  4. That headline, Bryan, is a shameless attempt to attract hits.

    But you just don't get that kind of reader, I'm afraid. When confronted with "Britney Spears' Rack", Gordon works out the mathematical formula and my first thought was that I would have written it "Britney Spears's Rack".

    Oh well.

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  5. I know, Brit, I've never made up my mind about that apostrophe thing - I just don't like a z-z sound.

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  6. I thought that as well, Brit. I thought it was only classical characters, such as Pythagoras, who get away without s's.

    BTW, I reckon the correct formula should be:

    O=[(N+1)/1] P(20C+B)/75

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  7. Auschwitz was scientific progressivism at its most virulent.

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  8. Science + Pornography = Hiroshima

    9/11 / Arses = ID Cards.

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  9. It's a well-known fact that Linda Lovelace worked on the Manhattan Project.

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  10. Britney Spears and science is hardly a match, well unless we talk about cosmetic surgery.

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