Friday, May 19, 2017

The Pseudo-Statistician's Lament.

During my last week of school, I distinctly remember telling my friends, "I cannot wait to take a break from school work." And yet here I am... taking Principles of Statistics (or How to Hate Life in 38 Lessons) through BYU Independent Study. This class is one of three prerequisites that I need to take for a new program.

I approached the class with immediate dread, which was only perpetuated when the introduction in the textbook read, "In statistics, the gain will be worth the pain." The PAIN??? Couldn't the editors just leave it at, "You will gain so much!" Of course, that would be lying.

I'm convinced that this class is impossible for English majors. The quizzes and exams are comprised of multiple choice and true/false questions. I analyze the questions extremely carefully and keep a list of poorly worded questions, so I can include them in course evaluations for my teachers' benefit. I'll quickly ascend to the top of my professors' favorite student list. On one particular occasion, I got a practice quiz question wrong, but I took a screenshot of the textbook that proves that I am, in fact, RIGHT. I would include these pictures, but there's no need to secure my reputation as a snot.

I also get really defensive when I'm working through my course. I talk to myself, even when I'm in the offices all alone. When the practice quiz practically taunted me and said, "You are incorrect," I bellowed in a most un-ladylike fashion, "LIKE HELL I AM!" And then I quickly repented because I remembered that I was on the Lord's campus. Oh, and one time, I got an 80% on a quiz. That was particularly soul-crushing. I haven't gotten an 80% on a test since the seventh grade.

Some of the concepts are difficult to wrap my head around. My brain is not wired for exactness and finite answers. After all, my degree has prepared me in interpretation and artful BS-ing. Anyway, I draw special diagrams to help me figure stuff out. Behold:

Note the outliers. Fassbender breaks the scale.

I've come across a term called "Discrete RVs." Of course, the last thing I think of is a random variable whose set of values is finite. Nope, I picture this:

There are only 27 lessons left for me to complete. ONLY 27 long, agonizing lessons. And I feel perfectly wretched for complaining so much. I tell my students on the first day of class that I detest complaining and that if they get a B or C, it's not the end of the world. But I will heretofore alter my first day lecture by excluding all math classes from such rules.

By the end of this class, I fully expect to look like this:

Another outlier for the "ATTRACTIVE SCALE," yes?
Love—the Ever Pessimistic, Pseudo-Statistician,

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