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Elizabeth was just telling me about the review session for her statistics class. People had difficulty understanding what a median was. Then someone said:

“I don’t understsand cumulative and relative frequency”

So the tutor in his/her earnest attempt to help this student said:

“yeah, I don’t really either”

I find this terribly worrying that the most basic principles aren’t understood. This is a math class for science students (albeit ecology students) at one of the top 20 science universities in the world.

And its not like statistics aren’t useful in ecology. Remember back in 5th grade when you had to go and throw your quadrant squares onto the ground in the park and count the number of organisms in each quadrant? That’s what ecology is like in the real world except on a bigger scale.

It’s pathetic. The undergraduate econometrics classes were scarcely better (I attended a few) and UCSD has the 2nd best econometrics school in the country! Although, I did attend a basic graduate level econometrics class and it just blew me away.

Do you want to know the real reason the financial sector crashed? It’s cause people don’t have an intuitive understanding of numbers. Subprime mortgages were priced using a Gaussian equation, which basically assumes that prices of NY mortgages and CA mortgages are uncorrelated. But gee, did anyone consider that by packaging NY and CA mortgages into one security that you might be driving market forces to make them correlated?

And now you have Obama abandoning his health care plan because people are too stupid to understand more simple numbers. They think it will radically increase government spending… when the Congressional Budget Office has said that it will be revenue neutral (assuming certain cuts are made, which may be a somewhat suspect assumption). Then he launches an all out assault on the banking sector when the banks that are being taxed have already repaid their loans with a 50% profit on top of it.

Systemic idiocy in the American political system is what will cause the downfall of America. China is going to eat you people alive.


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