Paul’s Letter to the Unskewers

November 7, 2012 at 5:27 am 5 comments

| Gabriel |

CLT never faileth: but whether there be speculations, they shall fail; whether there be talking heads, they shall cease; whether there be punditry, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we expound in part. But when the election actually happens, then that which is observed in sample shall generalize to the population. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish ideas that polls were deliberately biased. For now we see as through a homophilous social network; but then directly observe the population: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as my secret ballot remains unknown. And now abideth parameter, error, CLT, these three; but the greatest of these is CLT.

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Within the Margin of Error Fake Plutarch Quotes Are the Newest and Most Facile Ailment of All Arguments About Inequality


  • 1. Thomas Lumley  |  November 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    LLN, surely?

    • 2. gabrielrossman  |  November 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

      Arguably yes, but “LNN” doesn’t rhyme with “charity”

  • 3. Graham Peterson  |  December 10, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Nice big fight about Stats in politics over on the economics job (read: undergraduate trolling) board.

    And for the humanities blog post that attacked Nate Silver and started it all in the first place:

    Lots of blood spilt — tread carefully — floors are slippery when wet.

    • 4. gabrielrossman  |  December 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      That was painful but at least it reminded me once again that the GEB Kivistik character in Cryptonomicon was a pretty accurate satire. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, the N Carolina National Guard should have taken out the Duke English Dept in 1982 and spared us a generation of MLA follies.

      • 5. Graham Peterson  |  December 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm

        Ha! Defending other social sciences and the humanities on the econ board is exhausting, but a worthwhile endeavor. Via Lakoff et. al. I agree that metaphor is fundamental to cognition, and understanding it, and how to leverage it more responsibly in comparative discourse is essential. So the “metaphor in the humanities = pomo bullshit artistry” argument doesn’t fly with me, though pomo bullshit artistry ought not to fly with anyone.

        I have a buddy in the Rhetoric program here working on the Teaching of Writing, who grounds his dissertation in material evidence, and another who is trying to bring the Agent back into the Jameson school of Marxian critical theory.

        There is no shortage of thought in disciplines. But the incentives will always make it such that the loudest and most profoundly stupid in any discipline will be the easiest to take down by outside observers. Sad, that.

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