Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering

Statistics are a very tricky thing. Anyone who has taken basic or advanced statistics is immediately introduced to the concept of a sample vs. a population, and how to properly account for a population using a sample. Sometimes you have to put an additional symbol over your mu, sometimes you have to put a straight line over your x or a hat above your p - most all of these things are an attempt to say "we don't really know for 100% certain but this is a good approximation." This is all I learned from essentially three years of statistics related classes. I also learned about all kinds of new symbols that can be added to the standard alphabet.

Because statistics are a tricky thing, it is difficult to say whether 7,000 people are enough to indicate anything other than the specific statistics of these 7,000 people. There are all kinds of rules and methods to try to use a representative sample, and then additional rules and methods to calculate whether this sample is close enough to representative and what type of resampling may be required to keep working on the sample size. And so on.

For all these reasons, what I'm about to tell you doesn't really mean anything, but I do find it somewhat interesting that this study of 7,000 people tells us that about 10% of people between the ages of 25 and 45 are virgins. Men who attend church weekly are five times more likely to be virginal and women are 3.9 times more likely than those who are having sex instead of going to church. What does this mean? Nothing. Nothing at all. Why do I waste your time with this information? It gave me an opportunity to show off my vast knowledge of statistics. Most importantly, I just made approximately 10% of you feel a little bit better about life.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Also learned that there is a painful dearth of '40 Year Old Virgin' clips on YouTube and elsewhere.