Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Significance of Numbers (Statistics)

When I was young growing up and experiencing the world for the first time, a number that struck me as being particularly noteworthy, was 95 percentile, which means the top 5%, or 1 out of 20. That 1 out of 20, will stand out from the rest -- significantly, to the extent that many will consider that portion, a statistical anomaly (deviation), and throw it out of the population sample to obtain a more predictable distribution, because those extremes, can often so extreme, that they seem to have very little relationship to the rest.

The most obvious examples are contortionists, and their ability to move parts of their bodies into ranges most people don't think are humanly possible -- yet they obviously do. And rather than that being the exception, that is actually the rule -- when any population is measured on any index of being or performance. Somebody, will be the one in twenty, or one in a million, but most assuredly, that one in a million, will first come from that one in twenty, and that one in twenty population sample, will then differentiate into the one in twenty -- at which point, one will easily derive the one in 400, which is approaching finding the needle in the haystack.

To start off trying to pick the best out of 400, would be a much more laborious task than at first picking the 1 out of 20, and then from that, the one out of 20. In the age of computers, we arrive at that precision, but only attempting to distinguish the 1 out of 2 -- but it performs that simple task, a million times a second, or even, a billion times a second. That is why modern life, in the digital age (meaning the power of two), achieves the precision of intent with execution, with a remarkable degree of reliability and accuracy -- even for things we doubt could anything at all -- like a cheap (toy) watch.

In another time, nations prided themselves on their abilities to achieve that simple accuracy and reliability. And now we often can simply take that for granted -- and if it works for even a year, a month, once -- we would have gotten our money's worth. That seems to be the simple test for assessing the quality or defectiveness of products produced in mass quantities to make them cheaply available to virtually everyone -- does it work at all? If it doesn't, that's one thing, and if it does work, it may still not be precisely what one had in mind -- and one has to differentiate the next level of 1 in 20.

That 1 in 20, will be on the level that it is not just any 1 of the 20 -- but is instead, significantly different from the other 19 -- on that one particular index of importance. But as a practical matter, one doesn't need to concern themselves with such fine discriminations, because identifying the 1 in 10 is usually sufficient -- since the 1 in 20, will already be included in the 1 in 20. The reason for this is that when looking for the outstanding one in 20, there is on the other end, a 1 in 20 that will be so far a deviation from what one is looking for (at), that for all practical purposes, it is not even worth considering seriously -- if at all, unless one wants to make a study of it later. Such studies could actually consume a lifetime, delving into its own mysteries, and what it portends -- as a mutation (quantum leap) of another matter.

Thus one learns, that each is not randomly equal to every other -- in the actuality of contact and experience, but one can simply eyeball a particular instance, rather than at first, pulling out all one's fine-tune measuring devices, to determine an exactitude of assessment -- in determining how to get to the other side of the street. Usually, one doesn't have to first ponder, which came first, the chicken or the egg? -- to make that determination and decision.

But a lot of researchers actually do -- get lost in the meaningless and trivial of entertaining the limitless possibilities, when only the practicalities are meaningful. That is, one doesn't have to skydive without a parachute and survive that landing, to prove one's fitness. But it is less clear to many, that they also need not do much of what people have thought to be necessary to achieving certain results -- that could have accounted for 95% of the results, with only the application of the 5% of the energy consumption and effort -- and determining that, is what ultimately, is the highest manifestation of fitness.

World champion athletes understand this much better than those at lower levels of fitness -- who think that it is enough to obtain 5% of the results, if any, with 95% of the energy consumption, or effort -- and that reversal of logic, has even become the mantra of modern fitness programs that are obviously so wrong to any rational person. One would never seek the advice of a person who made the understanding of anything, more complicated and unfathomable, to the point of randomness in thinking that anything is just as good as anything else -- in saying that anything is better than nothing, because that anything, could be what is causing most of their problems and difficulties in life, and that would not be becoming more fit, but less so.

Yet that is what many "educated" people think.


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