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The Butt-hurt Is Strong With This One

David Freer is very upset that his slate got spanked at the Hugos. Herewith is my comment to his statistical analysis.

SF Signal has been tracking the number of books released monthly in our genre for the past few months. They are running just shy of 300 per month. Now, some of those aren’t eligible for the Hugo novel, so let’s cut that down to 200 books per month. That means 2400 books a year are eligible to short-list, meaning each book has a 0.2% chance of making the short-list. (5 / 2400)

Any attempt to get a valid statistical sample of a population of 2400 by looking at 5 individuals will not result (except by random chance) in an accurate representation of the total population. It will produce wild swings.

Secondly, your analysis fails to consider the fact that the entire population changes each year. In other words, after we've looked at this year’s slate of potential candidates, we not only shuffle the deck, we go out and get a new one. Again based on statistics, there should be no correlation between this year and any other year.

[Freer writes] Elvis (very popular) on the head of a coin, and a cat-litterbox on the tail, it will always land heads? – irrelevant. We’re not randomly tossing coins, we’re actively looking for ones with Elvis on the head and carefully displaying them heads-up.

[Freer writes] sample of teenagers with $200 who like that sort of music you do realize you don’t actually have to go to Worldcon to vote – supporting (AKA voting) memberships cost about $40.

[Freer writes] 10 years of novel data. 50 events – that’s 10 events, not 50, looking at 10 entirely different population sets.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
I commend you for even being able to get through Mr. Freer's argument. I couldn't. He writes too many sentences I cannot parse.
Aug. 27th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
His argument is surprisingly poorly-written for a professional writer...
Aug. 27th, 2014 02:35 pm (UTC)
Perhaps he reserves his clear, eloquent writing for occasions when he is getting paid.

Readers of blog entries get rambling, obfuscated prose worth what they paid for it.

I am reminded of Jack Vance's augur in The Dying Earth:

“For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue."
Aug. 28th, 2014 09:31 am (UTC)
So it's morning in Australia, and Freer is again explaining to me his sure-fire system to win at roulette why I just don't get statistics. (Apparently I slept through that graduate stats class I took.)
Aug. 28th, 2014 11:28 am (UTC)
Ooooo... and then he flounced. Good work :)

Seriously, I am soooooo tired of reading batshit right wing libertarians deciding who is and isn't to the left of Stalin.

For the record, I am NOT left wing. I have left wing friends who would figuratively be rolling on the floor at the idea that I'm anything other than a moderate centrist... but hey, let's not let reality get in the way of things shall we.
Aug. 28th, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
The fault lies in his assumptions really doesn't - this isn't really a stats problem as its a popular vote. The actual numbers of things available for selection and the voting pool keep changing randomly but the choices made by the voters almost certainly don't.

Their mistake was in thinking that the nominating pool, which is small and doesn't need much input would intersect with the much smaller and almost certainly influenced by other factors voting pool.

In other words, another libertarian doesn't really get that the problem with giving people choices is that it doesn't meant they will automatically agree with you.
Aug. 28th, 2014 11:59 am (UTC)
In other words, another libertarian doesn't really get that the problem with giving people choices is that it doesn't meant they will automatically agree with you.

Aug. 28th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
I suppose that there's some degree of confusion in that they are assuming that as they mostly mix with their own kind, they assume that most people agreement with them, even when their brand of right wing libertarian nonsense is a fairly small part of the conservative (small c) spectrum.

I rather lost the will to live with his 'I understand left wingers my son lives in the UK' - which amused me as by his standards most of the British government would be left wing.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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