Foolish fool. Damned fool. Fucking fool. Fool of fools. Fooleristics; a cross between statistics, stochastic, and simple foolishness. What could be more foolish than that? I am the first and, most likely, last conscious (well, semi-conscious at least) adherent to this brand new mix of mathematics and philosophy. More on this when I am not quite as drunk.
The Dutch are getting taller, we are told. Dutch men, that is. We don’t know how the Dutch women are faring in this respect. Typical statistics. Statistics are alway just a little slice of the cake, and therefore almost always misleading. No way to correlate them all, considering all the possible factors involved. Well, alright, maybe we could correlate them all, if we had them all, but the fact is we don’t. Do the tall Dutch men have proportionate cocks? Do they lose their hair earlier than men from the Ivory Coast? Do they suffer earlier heart attacks than the world average? Do they have a tendency to neurotic behavior? And, whether yes or no, what does this have to do with the Dutch women and their social conditioning, or women in general, or anything at all? Does anyone actually care?
That is why I cast a very sceptive eye on such studies. There is no way we could consider all the possible factors involved, unless we were living in a completely observed society. I am very thankful that we aren’t. Statistics are interesting, and fun, but in the end they don’t mean much, considering the limits imposed on ascertainment. And besides, as I once read on a little slip of paper you get in fortune cookies: 67% of all statistics are made up. Now consider the statistical chance of me getting that particular fortune cookie, and draw your own conclusions. On the other hand, we don’t know how many cookies were armed with that particular message… and so on.
Not to say that the statistics in question were made up. I just want to make clear how limited they, and all statistics, are. Extremely limited, and therefore quite likely misleading. In the end, as the Germans say: nachher so schlau wie vorher (as wise as before). This blog-post at Why Evolution is True led me to these thoughts.