For the Love of Math

I grow more and more convinced that we need remediation, FAST, in teaching about statistics and how they work. Its widespread and deep, the ignorance about it, and it has an effect on everything, choices from medicine to voting.

It is like nails on a chalkboard when I read most women and many men say things like “sure group X tends to be Y, but not everyone in group X is Y so therefore we cannot use that fact that X TENDS to be Y whatsoever” (examples abound on Christian Forums) For the people who think this way, there can be no objective truth about anything quantifiable! How can folks be comfortable in not allowing things to find definition? Truth is, people are not really comfortable in these nebulous claims, these nebulous claims are tools to get round only certain, and very predictable things, and seem clever doing so. Its flat offensive and annoying, maybe I’m mad as hell, guess Ive no choice but to take it though.

Do people not understand that generalities are expressions of statistics, and these statistics are the same ones that determine the efficacy of medicines or the risks of certain unhealthy behaviors for example? People rejecting statistics do so with a tone as if they are being clever, while they are mendaciously being utterly daft. Imagine…”I know penicillin kills bacteria but it doesn’t kill ALL bacteria”, as a response to someone stating that penicillin kills bacteria. Does it sound like an intelligent response? For those prone to saying “not all _________________”, they need to really consider if what they are saying sounds like the penicillin example, maybe it would be a good measure to use for checking ones self.

I suppose once upon a time language could have been effective lacking statistical references….maybe, its just a very quick thought. If populations were very low and things were being studied in isolation, and no fast means of communication was available, conveying statistical facts conversationally may have been less important than it is now. That ancient greeks were sequestered and muttering about things truly was not necessary to disseminate. But today, the thinking required of the average person to move through their day, today, is an inch deep and a mile wide, as they dismiss or accept one thing after another by adopting cliches, and not considering any objective facts. Society is there to protect the individual from mistakes, and by taking averages and expressing the softest of opinions based on what everyone believes, we can move along from field to trough, no issue.

Feminism, and generally liberalism rely on this emotion driven psuedo-analysis to get from and A to a B that has no connection in reason, only emotion. Hence one can argue, somehow, that there are no differences between the sexual natures of men and of women, and the basis will be something, again, given the appearance of deep thought, like “because everyone is a unique individual”.

If a study shows something they dislike, emotionally, they simply FEEL against it, and its rendered invalid. But somehow they realize that saying it doesn’t feel right will not garner much in the way of respect for the opinion. Comes clever cliches and the psychobabble jargon of pop psychology, where, regarding sexuality, everyone is unique and each attempts to project on the other, or some such simplicity.

The big picture shows a big reality, statistically. That is that the sort of direction (lacking better word), ideologically , or politically, or even by way of popular conventional wisdom, is all in the same moral/ideological direction. It makes the majority of people who are claiming all this uniqueness become extremely predictable. Pose a question that has its answer rooted in gender politics or issues of left vs right, race or economy, and one can almost write the response that will be the most prevalent, and it will be one that actually says the least, tangibly, but uses the most words to get there.

Life is become to dissemble and equivocate. Average everything down to where everything is, well, average, and no one has to take an opinion that may not feel right. No one need have need to question anything, always ready with a soft set of derivations to nowhere. Progress grinds to a halt, actually, as this averaging of the averages is called societal evolution, and those who hold opinions, right or wrong, and seen on the extremes, better to be in the average of the average middle of the line on everything, you know, where everyone else….all those unique folks, are?

Can it not be told, and taught, and told again, to people that the response to a statistical claim is not “take it with a pinch”….or…..”that may be in some cases but it isn’t in all”, and these these retorts are thoughtless, not thoughtful. Thoughtful may be to say yes, that is generally true, but just barely, or yes, that’s pretty much a given, respectively an expression of near 50/50 and near 95/5. But “not every” is a banal statement of the obvious being used in an obtuse refutation what is true.

This stuff matters. Its irrational to suggest we are all snowflakes. Do they not realize that that negates one of the holy grails of gender relation speak…..”read these books and get into counseling “? Counseling? On what basis? How many years must these unique individuals be studied to figure out what to say, what to do? How can we share the gospel with snowflakes? How dare a pastor say anything in sermon, it may only find root in one unique mind. It matters that we be able to communicate, to question and reject or accept facts, as opposed to always seeking to dilute them into nothing.

What does it benefit a man to keep taking averages, gaining the world in terms of shared  opinion and no boats rocked, but ending up a part of the big average soul?

This is not about everyone being good in math, per se, or expert in statistics. This is actually more about rhetoric and the need for it, as we crowd ourselves into bigger and bigger groups that have to coexist. Its like cats and dogs, loners or a pack…..but I know, you must know someone who has a cat that’s a pack animal…..sorry.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we are unique in that regard. But it is the opposite of clever to use that as an answer to real problems. We have to get this fixed, or not, because after all not everyone has this problem. Blast into every blog and forum and correct the rocket scientists that are saying that not every rocket scientist actually studies rockets.

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5 thoughts on “For the Love of Math

  1. It’s even worse than you describe because those with a seeming inability to grasp the idea of a generality when it goes against what they feel have no problem stating and defending generalities that fit with their worldview. When the “well I know someone who’s the opposite” is brought up against one of their generalities, the responses make it clear that they do in fact understand the concept of generalities.

    Something very similar happens with comparisons and analogies too. Where they will seem to not comprehend what’s being compared.

  2. 7, yes thats good. I do not think that any presentation of the basis for generalization being needed will sway the folks who say we cannot generalize. Somehow they are convinced that they are clever in saying that. Its maddening.

  3. Pingback: Feminism is Empathological

  4. Reading along, I see a woman posting about gender stereotypes, and the flaws of generalizations. She brilliantly proclaims that these stereotypes about math and what not cannot be correct, because she personally knows some women that are all about math.

    You cannot make stuff like that up.

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