The Awfullest Australian Curriculum Statistics Lines

This one is different. It is ostensibly a year-by-year selection of the worst statistics lines chosen from the Complete Awfullest Works. Unlike for Number and Algebra and Measurement and Space, however, this is effectively impossible. Nothing similar, or anything, properly works for Statistics. Even the lines chosen for the Complete Awfullest Works were chosen largely at random.

The Statistics stream is so bad, so vague and thin and aimless and repetitive, the only proper way to appreciate the badness is to read the entire thing. There is likely just one person in Australia stubborn enough to do that: Merchant-Ivory has its Joe Queenan, and ACARA has its Marty. You’re welcome.

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VTAC Converts an Own Goal

VTAC, the Victorian body responsible for figuring out ATARs and the like, is, of course, a professional and widely respected organisation. VTAC is staffed by very well-qualified boffiny stats types, just quietly doing their boffiny stats thing, and they don’t make mistakes. Well, except for this. And this. And really, really this.

Anyway, a few months ago the Evil Mathologre alerted us to some new(ly discovered) weirdness courtesy of the always-perfect VTAC. Or, maybe it’s courtesy of ACTAC, which is the national umbrella group encompassing all of the State-TACs. It’s difficult to tell, since, much like QANTAS, it seems that ACTAC cannot be contacted, appearing to exist only as an abstract concept. Anyway anyway, to the weirdness. Continue reading “VTAC Converts an Own Goal”

PoSWW 23: Jo Boaler is Challenged

It’s Greg Ashman‘s fault. It’s always Greg Ashman’s fault.

A couple days ago Ashman had an excellent post, on Jo Boaler and her California Dreamin’ curriculum. That draft curriculum has been, let’s say, hammered, particularly by mathematicians. Not that such criticism slows Boaler:

“We understand education, and they have no experience studying education. Mathematicians sit on high and say this is what is happening in schools.” Continue reading “PoSWW 23: Jo Boaler is Challenged”

Further Exams and Further Errors

By overwhelming demand,* we have decided, much belatedly, to put up a post for discussion of the 2021 Further Mathematics exams. We have no particular plans to update this post, although we will do so if anything of interest arises. We’ll just note the two excerpts below, from Exam 2, the first of which is discussed here, at 5:30. Thanks to Simon and SRK to bringing these to our attention.**

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WitCH 72: High Significance

Here is one more from the 2019 Specialist Exam 2, once again courtesy of student PURJ (who is vetting the exams much better than the exam vetters). It consists of the last four parts of Q6, the final question on the exam, concerning a machine that packages noodles. The answers from the examination report appear below the questions.

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BiFF: Norm Macdonald and Pie Charts

We already had plans to start a new series of posts: Because it’s Funny. This was to begin with a different comedian, but Norm McDonald‘s dying kind of forced our hand. The characterisation “his cynicism was just a byproduct of his idealism” makes him our kind of guy. Below is a clip from Saturday Night Live. Continue reading “BiFF: Norm Macdonald and Pie Charts”

The Coronavirus Vaccine and Australia’s Dangerous Clot

Most people will be aware that Australia’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines is being threatened by a dangerous clot. But it’s not just Greg Hunt. As well as the Health Minister there are a number of other problems, including a second, worrying clot.

Of course, ScoMoFo and his team of incompetent goons have screwed up Australia’s vaccination program, and of course they’re too busy image-managing and blame-shifting to work to fix it up. But there is also a serious question about the AstraZeneca vaccine and the prevalence of dangerous blood-clotting.

In brief, is the AstraZeneca vaccine sufficiently safe to warrant its use? How likely is the vaccine to protect a person, and protect them from what? What are the dangers of the vaccine, how likely are the dangers to eventuate, and how dangerous are the dangers?

We’re open-minded on the question, we haven’t looked hard for trustworthy answers, and we’d appreciate it if anyone can point us to reasonable and reliable evidence. We’ll happily work to digest any good-faith analyses, and will look to write about it in future posts. It would not surprise us if we ended up being convinced that the AstraZeneca vaccine, although not without significant risks, is worth the risks. But, as it stands, we’re not convinced.

One thing that does absolutely nothing to convince us that the AstraZeneca vaccine is sufficiently safe is pronouncements from ScoMoFo and GregHunt that the vaccine is sufficiently safe. Declarations from these self-interested con men, on anything, are worthless. We are also not at all comforted by government apparatchik’s chanting “no proven link”, as if some formal proof of a link rather than statistical evidence is the critical issue right now. All these people may be telling the truth, but they are so heavily invested in manipulation and crowd management that it is impossible to tell.

We look forward to reading, and writing upon, whatever non-crazy material is thrown our way.

 

 

 

Critical Issues: Spot the Error

This one could be a WitCH or a PoSWW, except we’re withholding some information. So, consider it an analysis puzzle.

The following was posted to an Australia-NZ statistics list. The email was from an American statistician, referring to and quoting from this article (Update: link fixed), on a Texas hospital adopting critical care guidelines. See if you can identify the problem.

UPDATE (30/7)

A weird hint: we are not playing fair. (And, boy are people gonna be pissed.)

As we wrote in reply to a comment “There is the post, and the links to which the post refers. You can consider what ever issues you see.” So maybe list quickly, without elaboration, anything you see as an issue.

UPDATE (31/7)

OK, time to end this, and so a final hint. As indicated in the comments, the “problem” is with the poster’s line “Statistics is a bitch”. We’re very, very pleased that no one has hit upon the “problem” with this line.

FINAL UPDATE (01/08)

Well, wasn’t that fun? Thanks to everyone for playing along.

As indicated above, the “problem” is with the line “Statistics is a bitch”. And what’s wrong with that line? Not a whole lot. It’s not a great line, since it can be read as treating the “statistics” as a from-nowhere reality, rather than the disastrous consequences of Republican screw-up. But no big deal.

So, why post on this as a problem? Because the stats email list to which the comment was posted thought it was a problem. A number of commenters took very serious issue with the poster’s use of the word “bitch”.

This began with an off-post email to the poster, indicating “the language used is not at all appropriate for [such] an email list” and a request: “I’d appreciate it if you could apologise for this choice of words.” (To whom?) The poster replied to the email list, with a long and unhelpful, but fundamentally reasonable, non-apology apology. In brief, the poster, who is in Texas, suggested that they had much, much bigger things to worry about. And then the bashing kicked in.

There were calls for the poster to “grow up”, to “stop using hurtful, offensive language”, suggestions that “the problem is the use of a term that is all too often directed at women in a derogatory way” (ignoring that this was not the case here), whining about “gendered name-calling”, and all manner of nitpicky and gratuitous complaint.

It was crazy and it was revolting, and all of it coming from proud and proper academics. Eventually there was some tepid defence of the poster, but way too little and way too late. No one stood up properly to these ridiculous, self-important language nazis.

Which is why we posted about it here. Of course this is the type of blog where those offended by strong language are unlikely to hang around. And, maybe some shyer types here agree with the poster’s critics. But, it was still very, very pleasing that no one who engaged here had a clue what we could have been on about.