More rain fell over Illinois over the Memorial Day weekend. The heaviest amounts were in the central part of the state and ranged from 2 to 6 inches (yellow to dark red in the map below).
Right now the statewide average rainfall for May stands at 5.03 inches, based on preliminary data. More rain is forecasted for today and much of this week. So this total is likely to increase as we go through the week. By contrast, Illinois received only 2.5 inches in May 2012.
This is already the wettest January-May on record with 17.9 inches. It is already the wettest climatological spring (March-May) on record with 14.9 inches. Statewide records of precipitation go back to 1895.
This is pretty clear cut.
Outliers can also pull an average down, leading social scientists to overstate the risks of particular events.
Most children of divorced parents turn out to be as well adjusted as children of married parents, but the much smaller number who lead very troubled lives can lower the average outcome for the whole group, producing exaggerated estimates of the impact of divorce. [...]
On average, people’s reactions to stressful events like divorce or bereavement indicate a sharp and long-lasting decline in personal well-being, followed by a slow and gradual recovery. And on average, married individuals report themselves happier than single or divorced ones. But in this new paper, “The Trouble With Averages,” the psychologist Anthony Mancini shows that treating the average response as if it was the normal or typical outcome can lead to bad social policy and inappropriate therapeutic responses.
In the case of loss, the average is skewed by a relatively small percentage of people who exhibit substantial, persistent distress. Most people actually experience “a modest, short-lived increase in distress that subsides within a few months.” When Mr. Mancini and his colleagues studied people’s reaction to the loss of a spouse, they found that only 20 percent of the bereaved went through the “conventional” pattern of grieving — a sharp dip in well-being followed by a gradual return to previous levels of satisfaction. Almost 60 percent did not experience persistent sadness.
When we assume that “normal” people need “time to heal,” or discourage individuals from making any decisions until a year or more after a loss, as some grief counselors do, we may be giving inappropriate advice. Such advice can cause people who feel ready to move on to wonder if they are hardhearted.
Here are some other examples:
Consider the salary of math majors who graduated from a certain year. If you use the median, that might be ok. But if you use and average and, say, have 9 graduates who are offered contracts from 40,000 to 70,000 dollars a year and one who happens to be a basketball star and lands an NBA contract, well, that average might be a bit skewed. Yes, that happened when David Robinson got his NBA contract (and yes, he was a math major).
On another source of confusion: too many times, people focus on the rare and unusual instead of the more deadly mundane:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Risk Perception
From his Facebook page:
An illustration of how the news are largely created, bloated and magnified by journalists. I have been in Lebanon for the past 24h, and there were shells falling on a suburb of Beirut. Yet the news did not pass the local *social filter* and did [not] reach me from social sources…. The shelling is the kind of thing that is only discussed in the media because journalists can use it self-servingly to weave a web-worthy attention-grabbing narrative.
It is only through people away from the place discovering it through Google News or something even more stupid, the NYT, that I got the information; these people seemed impelled to inquire about my safety.
What kills people in Lebanon: cigarettes, sugar, coca cola and other chemical monstrosities, iatrogenics, hypochondria, overtreament (Lipitor etc.), refined wheat pita bread, fast cars, lack of exercise, angry husbands (or wives), etc., things that are not interesting enough to make it to Google News.
You see this professionally. For example, every time there is a college shooting, university administrative bodies on other campuses call meetings to…well, make sure we are safe. In fact, students are far more likely to die in a traffic accident (say, driving while texting) than they are to be killed by some gunman.
But it is the spectacular that draws our attention; not the more likely (and mundane).
Of course, some of the policy is the CYA type tailored to avoid future lawsuits and to be able to tell parents how safe their kids will be in their care.
Not understanding what you read
The right wingers are going on about Attorney General Holder “lying”. About what….this time? Well:
The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee is looking into whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath earlier this month when he said he wasn’t involved in the “potential prosecution of the press,” two Republican committee sources confirmed Tuesday.
Though he testified in a May 15 Congressional hearing that he’s “never heard of” the press being potentially charged for obtaining leaked material, it has since been reported that he signed off on the Justice Department’s decision to seek a search warrant in 2010 for Fox News reporter James Rosen’s private e-mails as part of a leak probe.
An FBI affidavit used to obtain the warrant for Rosen’s e-mails said there was probable cause the reporter had broken the law when he allegedly received a leaked classified report from a State Department contractor. The affidavit described Rosen as potentially being an “aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” to the crime of disclosing government secrets, opening up criticism that the Obama administration was targeting Rosen.
However, the Justice Department did not prosecute Rosen, nor did it file charges against him. While he was listed as a “co-conspirator,” that often times does not mean he would be considered a target.
Bottom line: Attorney General Holder was going after the person who leaked the classified information and not the reporter. So, he didn’t lie. However if you go to the Facebook CNN page and read the responses, well…you’ll get a good look at the Dunning-Kruger effect in action.
Workout notes Great weather; walked my Cornstalk classic course in about 58 minutes (by time of day; I had to wait to cross streets, etc.) This was about 13:30 mpm or so on a hilly course; it was just hard enough to get slightly damp with sweat.
I am feeling better, but this mini-workout took something (just a little) out of me. There is no way in Hades I could have done this 7 times in a row (enough to make 30 miles) today. And yes, I’ve walked 50 miles in a row at a faster pace…a LONG time ago.
Later, my wife tells me that one of her former students (in his early 30′s) ran his first half marathon in 1:54. “That’s good, right?” she asks. I reminded her that when I was 39 and 40, I had run a 1:42 (windy; a month after a marathon) and a 1:35 (peaked) and she had yelled “get going Lard-Butt!” at me as I finished (25-30 minutes behind the winner). So, is he (her former student) a lard-butt? “No…that’s different.”
I got this e-mail message from Rick Santorum:
Grab the popcorn folks; this will be fun.
See the earth through Saturn’s rings…and Saturn, with rings, from the earth via the moon:
The view from the other direction:
I am loving this. Some Republicans think that it is ok, and possibly even a good idea, for Republican politicians to denounce Rush Limbaugh:
In February 19 columns for New York Daily News and Politico, MSNBC’s S.E. Cupp and Joe Scarborough had harsh words for major pieces of the right-wing noise machine.
Cupp was responding to a virulent conservative reaction to her past criticism of Limbaugh. On February 14, The New York Times Magazine reported Cupp’s statements on what the Republican Party needs to do to win:
“And we can’t be afraid to call out Rush Limbaugh,” said Goodwin’s fiancée, S. E. Cupp, a New York Daily News columnist and a co-host of “The Cycle” on MSNBC. “If we can get three Republicans on three different networks saying, ‘What Rush Limbaugh said is crazy and stupid and dangerous,’ maybe that’ll give other Republicans cover” to denounce the talk-show host as well.
Cupp wrote in her Daily News column: “Rush’s fans, who call themselves ‘Ditto-heads,’ did not appreciate this. … Some demanded I apologize. Others implied I just committed career suicide. Others still politely suggested I commit actual suicide.”
The MSNBC host refused to apologize and went on to slam Limbaugh for his infamous comments labeling Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for speaking in favor of federal funding for contraception ….
Then you have the tea party zealots vs. the establishment Republicans. The tea party types are furious with Karl Rove because he is setting up a fund to get establishment types past the tea party types in Republican primaries:
A fundraising email from the Tea Party Patriots is causing a stir after it “accidentally” went out featuring a photo of Karl Rove in a Nazi SS uniform. The email, a portion of which can be seen below, issues an attack on Rove for wanting to “crush the Tea Party movement and protect the big-government status quo” directly beside the Photoshopped image.
This is hilarious! Of course, Karl Rove had a less than impressive record in 2012.
I think that, thanks to gerrymandering at the state level and thanks to the spread out nature of rural districts, in terms of population the Republicans will always be overrepresented in the House; our chances of winning that back in 2014 are tough. But unless the quit becoming the party of old men who yell at empty chairs, they are sunk at the national level.
There is a place for smart conservatives but the current Republican party isn’t it. Bring back the Whigs.
Not all mathematics professors are as useless as I am. Note that Andrew Hicks (Drexel University) created a side mirror (for an auto) which gives a wider view without the usual distortion that the “round mirrors” have:
Now for the snark (and fun):
Proof that God exists!
The Great Frog God (whose existence has been proven) now looks forward to your worship, adoration and money. Mostly money.
(hat tip: Jerry Coyne)
Benghazi Attack Hearing
Colbert is annoyed that the Republicans looked so bad.
No, neither President Obama nor President Bush are/were tyrants.
Snark with Spandex
When I took my psychology course, I learned that some ads could be “too sexy” to be effective: that is, subjects remembered the sexy stuff but not the product. Could this be a case of that?
Well, if the product (what product? ) was aimed at both men and women, this ad is probably wasted on the heterosexual males. But the heterosexual females might relate without being distracted, though I wonder what “183 percent less” means.
Someone thought that I’d like this. Hey, I am always willing to lend a hand.
No, this won’t get me into adventure racing; I’d probably end up torching my knees.
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