I might’ve been too hasty in scoffing at H. P. Lovecraft’s literary style, because I’ve finally found a subject that only his overwrought, adjective-stuffed, horror-stricken prose can do justice to: statistics.
It’s been years since I was required to calculate the number of permutations of oranges and gold coins and penguins in wildly unlikely hypothetical situations, and it’s clear now that absence has not made the heart fonder. Now, as if that weren’t enough, we’ve moved onto continuous distributions, which brings with it the added horror of multiple, by-parts integrations.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that whoever pioneered this execrable branch of study must’ve had much the same personality and powers of empathy as a soggy piece of bread (i.e. none). I find it literally, physically painful to bring myself to do the homework – which, joy of joys, is 35% of my final grade – and I attempt to put it off as much as possible. I come up with quite innovative and subtle methods of doing this, like choosing shades of colour in PowerPoint themes for my oral presentation or figuring out the IRR function on the OpenOffice Calc program.
Going to class, incidentally, accomplishes nothing, although if you sit in the front row (why in God’s name would you ever do that to yourself?) you might get a spectacular view of the professor’s spit-flecked mouth as he literally raves on about cumulative functions in front of a stupendously unresponsive and largely absent class. This Tuesday, I made a spontaneous and completely uncharacteristic decision to miss that class for absolutely no reason, and my conscience didn’t even whimper.
Think about it a bit, though, and you’ll find that there are even more reasons to seriously loathe this subject. As an almost-equally-detestable professor pointed out today in class, statistics can be manipulated any number of ways to give the average (statistics-ignorant (oh, you lucky, lucky, innocent soul)) person very different views of the world. Is coffee bad for you? Do we actually get the urge to run out and suck blood if we watch more vampire-oriented TV serials (this vampire craze has got to stop, seriously)? Are statistics students more likely to commit suicide? We’ll never know as long as statistics offers us cleverly standard-deviated and craftily normalized results. So – not only is stats sadistic and torturous, it’s also morally ambiguous!
I rest my case.