Saturday, December 15, 2007

Statistics Hell

Happy Holidays from Statistics Hell. I've been here for about a week now, being passed around from one demon to another. My first tormenter was the late Carlo Emilio Bonferroni (pictured).

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He laughed hysterically as I struggled to perform numerous, detailed, statistical tests, knowing that the more tests I did, the more his devious "Bonferroni adjustment" would steal from their precious significance.

Next to savage my soul was Sas, the statistical software monster. She lured me in with promises of her power, but after extracting from me a great penance, she spurned my questions and threw me into the fires of frustration.

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I slapped and rolled, but the flames engulfing my body only burned higher. "All is lost!" I screamed in desparate agony. But then I felt a soothing hand touch my shoulder and the flames flickered out. I turned around and looked into the eyes of a bearded, benevolent savior. It was George Gilchrist from the William and Mary Biology Department. "Your advisor told me you were hurting. I'm here to help you. Send me your data and I'll solve EVERYTHING." Overcome with relief, I put all my faith in Gilchrist.

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I waited in Statistics Purgatory until word came from Gilchrist, "I've done it. I've found the solution..." I felt myself rising towards a beautiful light, and heard the beginnings of harp music. Then Gilchrist's visage darkened as he added, "But to solve your problem you must use R!" With that he cast the great, leaden R around my neck and sent me tumbling once more into the depths. "MWAH HA HA" cackled my false savior as I fell, "It will take you all of eternity to learn R, for it is Satan's own statistics software!"

So here I am and here I'll stay, in Statistics Hell, forever.


Sophia said...

Hey James,
I stumbled upon your blog after your incessant postings on rec dot and shameless plugging of your blog... and I love it!
Did you spend time in the Bay Area--I noticed you're a Mark Morford reader like I am.
SAS is OK... but R really rocks! Especially when you're running it on a Linux box with 4 gigs of RAM... normalizing micro-array data never felt so about an instance when Bonferroni takes away all your significant data!
Anyway, great blog!

James Douglass said...

Hi Sophia,

I'm glad my shameless plugs worked! Perhaps I can be a little more subtle with the advertising from now on. :)

Unfortunately I haven't been to the Bay Area since I was 11 years old. But I found out about Mark Morford from a friend and now I'm addicted.

Linux... 4 gigs... R... You're hard core!