Let’s walk through Susan’s post here. First, let me give credit where credit is due. Susan is quite articulate, and has a masterful command of rhetoric. No doubt, she would have been a successful lawyer. I’m sure she is very persuasive to those without a sufficient IQ and critical thinking skills to see all the holes in her Swiss cheese arguments. When it comes to basic logic though, she often stumbles in contradictions and non sequiturs. I believe this is because she often starts with what *feels right* to her and then tries to fit the data and construct arguments to support that feeling. As a side point, I think many intelligent women struggle with the battle between their emotions and feelings versus their intellect. Most often, emotions and “what feels” right is the master, and the intellect becomes the servant.In general, responding to rhetoric with dialectic in this manner amounts to little more than casting pearls before swine, but not when the rhetoric is fake dialectic. In such cases, exposing it for the nonsense that it is is extremely effective, and Morpheus has done a competent job of demonstrating why Susan's reliance upon an incompetent authority was unwise.
Let’s start with the title of the post. Note the use of the word “Conclusive” in the title. This is a rhetorical gimmick. If something really is conclusive, then the data and analysis can stand on its own. The reader does not need to be told what follows is “conclusive”. The word is simply there to plant in the minds of less discerning readers a false sense of authority. This is the sort of thing that does work on most people to set the tone. The Game parallel to this technique is what is called Frame Control.
She goes on to state: “was apparently incensed by her argument, emailing me this vaguely ominous message:”
Actually I was not incensed…perhaps that is projection on her part but I was a different “i” word. I was incredulous that she was making the foundation of a post a random commenter claiming to be a PhD, and clearly not even understanding the details of the mathematical argument. It is understandable that Susan might have some trouble with the math here. In a recent comment, she made the statement that men over 35 lose 7 pounds of muscle a year. Clearly, if one stopped to think about that point for even one second before making it, one would realize the basic arithmetic is absurd as you would lose 210 pounds of muscle by age 65. To her credit, she did correct this egregious error, but it does point out that perhaps she has some difficulty with “math and stuff”.
She goes on to say: “but he is correct IF AND ONLY IF you believe that the homo sapien male is inherently more valuable sexually than the homo sapien female.”
Ahhhh. Note the use of the CAPS and the emphatic IF AND ONLY IF which excludes all other possibilities. She is so sure of herself. Of course, this is demonstrably false. If we assume for the sake of argument that this “area under the curve” notion has any meaning, then the OTHER POSSIBILITY where the areas could NOT be equal is if the “homo sapien female is inherently more valuable sexually than the homo sapien male”. To be clear, I’m not outright rejecting that possibility. One logical possibility is that the peak value of a typical female is orders of magnitude higher than the peak value of the male, but that the value decreases at a much more accelerated rate. The key is that whether you start the top of the Y-axis from 10 or 100, that represents the peak value for each sex, not an absolute number you can compare between the sexes. When dealing with “math and stuff” and comparing different data sets with different value ranges, this is called normalization of the data:
In the simplest cases, normalization of ratings means adjusting values measured on different scales to a notionally common scale,
So conceivably, the 10 or 100 for a guy could be a lower absolute value compared to the 10 or 100 for a girl. It is an interesting question. Who has a higher absolute sexual value? The 23-year Sports Illustrated swimsuit model with 36″ legs, a perfect body, and face of an angel, or the 38-year old tall, charismatic, handsome, wealthy hedge fund manager? But they both could be at their respective peak values of 10 or 100 or whatever scale you normalize to. What I’ve described here with normalizing the data is yet another reason this whole “area under the curve” business is just gibberish.
Let’s hit this from yet another angle. When we depict SMV on a chart like this, we are essentially showing a price path or trajectory in value. The path of the line over time and the corresponding Y-axis value is the informational content, not the cumulative area under the line. If a woman was super-fit then gained 50 pounds, then lost it, the path of that line would show a sudden collapse and rebound. It would be nonsensical to start analyzing the area under her particular SMV value line. In a sense, this is basically just like plotting a stock price over time. It is the stock price at a particular point in time that matters, not how much area is under the stock price line. This whole “area under the curve” business is almost as nonsensical if I grabbed two random stock tickers, plotted them and then stated that somehow the areas under the curves must equal.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Of math and stuff
Morpheus responds to Susan Walsh and her attempt to defend her assertion that the idea female SMV declines with age is a myth: