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May 27, 2011 / poonamrajmane88

Statistical Data in a novel: Does it change the overall point of view of how you understand the story?

The narrator of this book is young and autistic. In this story the narrator is not involved but narrates the story as if from the horse’s mouth. The narrator has his own interpretation of what the protagonist has to say and how he understands every single thing that the character meant.

Point of view can be defined as a third person executing a perception of the character in the story. The narrator includes a famous story to explain his point of view on math’s which the character in this story Mr. Jeavons does not understand.

This young narrator goes on with the story which focuses on mathematics and statistics. Phew! Mathematics and Statistics are the deadliest topics which most of us do not want to continue with. But neither of us realize in today’s world we leave with the help of those two so called dreaded subjects.

We live in a world of information overload and to simplify most of the things we make use of statistics and mathematics. a good book with an interesting story is a powerful way to get your message across.  Stories is an eternal part of our day to day lives, and to remember the story we need facts, a better understanding of the topic, context, emotional impact and must include data and figures.

According to me use of lot of words in to convey a thought is least better than putting it in a statistical format. Statistics is often considered to be boring, when it comes to statistics we start visualising loads of data complied into tables, graphs and spreadsheets. Statistics are used to explain quantitative arguments such as How many people are on facebook and how many of them are active. It is very common to support science research based on statistics and it gives certain credibilty to your research. But understanding statistics is very abstract and difficult for most of the audience. Hence, it is observed that a research has both narrative as well as statistical explanation of the data.

When I read this article, my point of view at looking and understanding the article did not change much because it is more simplified with statistical data by the character in this example. For me as an audience things register more faster in a brain which are explained in simple language and has lot of charts, pictures or graphs i.e explicit visual examples. Also i myself can clearly understand what the narrator has to say when he goes on to describe how statistics can come in as handy when explaning simple logic. It is impressive in the way that narrator supports Mr. Jeavons mathematical illetracy by use of such examples and understands what the character means when he makes certain statements. Narrator tries to explain the situation from Marilyn vos Savant point of view, who is registered in Guiness Book of World Records Hall of Fame for having highest IQ in the world.

The article in question discusses about The Mounty Hall Problem;

There is a game show on television where you can win car as a prize. In this game show there are three doors out of which one has car in it and the other two has goats. The player selects one door, while the hosts instead of opening the selected door he shows the player what he have lost by not selecting that door. After he have opened the door which was not selected, the player is given one final chance to change his/her mind. In a magazine Parade in America, Marilyn argues that the chances of getting a car or a goat are 50:50 if you go with your intuition and the player should choose the final door because the chances of getting a car are 2 in 3. Although she explained why her statistical interpretation was right, about 92% scientists in the field of mathematics criticized her for her mathematical illiteracy. She proves by statistical logic that intuition is not always right for such games or chances where you have to choose and make a decision(Haddon, 2004).

I think the explanation of how to consider which door to choose is far more simpler by the use of statistics than explaining it in long sentences or paragraphs.

References :

Haddon, M. (2004). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (pp 78- 82). London: Red Fox.

http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

Image Credit : rmay (2009, December 15). From my point of view king. Retrieved May 24,2011 from http://www.toonpool.com/cartoons/from%20my%20point%20of%20view%20king_68179

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8 Comments

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  1. kizi817 / May 28 2011 8:09 am

    Hi, Poonam,
    Through your article, I thoroughly understand the text to convey information to us.
    Statistical data is simple, standardized language of science and technology for academic research。It is a describe tool. Because of its logic and contrast that has strong contrast and can compare easily, I believe it is easy to read and understand. It also can avoid long complicated narratives, avoiding the drawbacks of the abstract, so that the article is more convincing. Of course, as you said, some of articles which are lack of descriptions make the reader incomprehensible.

    Your blog gave me a lot of your inspiration in writing papers in the future.
    Overall, I like your blog.

    Cheers,

    Yuchao Yang

    • poonamrajmane88 / Jun 5 2011 6:51 am

      Hello Yuchao,
      Thanks for commenting on this blog and I am happy that this blog gave you some inspiration to write.
      But I must tell you Learning statistics to present a data is lot more difficult and those who can present the information with statistics conveying a right message across should make use of it.
      Thanks.

      Regards,
      Poonam Rajmane

  2. wasangrabe / May 28 2011 8:28 am

    Hi Poonam,

    I think you did a good job on identifying the narrator and the using of statistics to introduce a point of view. Also, I liked the photo that you posted is a good choice, but I think it would be better and more relevant if you used a photo that has some statistical characters.

    For me, I have found this story is a relatively interesting and catchy especially the introduction when it started with a comparison between life and math’s and how both involve in solve problems but the only different that sometimes in life a problem does not end with an answer, not like in math’s.

    I agree with you that “most of the things we make use of statistics “and we are applying math’s in our daily life because everyone has an intellectual mathematics which is used simply by self-asking ‘how many/much…?’ For example, how much money do we have to do shopping, is it enough or not? Or how many days left till the start of our final exams and how can we divide it in a way that cover all the related lectures?.

    besides, I would like to add one point that take my attention which is researchers, for instance, use statistics to express or convince readers that their point of view or hypothesis is right; however there is some abuse on using statistics, for example, in one study named “Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs” that conducted by Dr. Bini and others on April 2011 in order to show that Pit Bull, which kind of dogs, cause harm more than other kind of dogs when they bite people [1]. The researchers used numbers of historical attacks by those dogs, from a hospital records with ignoring some important and specific information that show the reasons or the circumstances that led these doges to act aggressively [2].

    This research paper illustrated one critical point that using statistics should be combined with carefulness to make people believe and trust a particular story.

    In all, statistics can be an effective tool to serve a particular point of view that might convince others to believe in it.

    finally, I have noticed that you have changed your mind towards using statistics from “According to me use of lot of words in to convey a thought is way better than putting it in a statistical format” to “I think the explanation of how to consider which door to choose is far more simpler by the use of statistics than explaining it in long sentences or paragraphs”? Or maybe not?

    Regards

    Wasan

    [1] http://networkedblogs.com/hGN3d
    [2] http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2011/05/creating-statistics-to-fit-a-point-of-view.html

    • poonamrajmane88 / Jun 5 2011 7:07 am

      Hello Wasan,
      Well firstly, thanks for commenting on my blog and showing me the mistake I made in the blog. The sentence that you mentioned is actually not is what I meant. I din’t realise that until you pointed out. I wanted to say that statistics is more better that conveying some scientific fact or research in string of words.
      I liked the examples you elaborated on day to day use of mathematics. I read through the article that you mentioned and it clearly illustrates how statistics if not taken into account will be difficult for audience to understand certain concepts. Also the lack of statistical information will compromise the validity and credibility of the research.
      Thanks.

      Regards,
      Poonam Rajmane

  3. kategap / May 29 2011 11:11 am

    Dear Poonam,

    Thank you for your post. I especially enjoyed the cartoon! However it would have been nice if you included the name of the text you were analyzing – I only realised what it was once I read the quote from the book.

    I agree that in many cases statistics can be very useful in exemplifying complex ideas. However I think that in this particular book statistics and numbers play a much bigger role. To judge this you would have to read the whole book or at least the beginning of it. I happen to have read “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” a few years ago, so I hope I can provide a short overview.

    The book is written from the point of view of a fifteen year old boy with autism. He has problems with understanding the outside world and it seems to me that logic and maths are the tools that he uses to decipher life. Haddon skilfully uses maths in this book to put the reader into the mind of this boy and to show us how he thinks. For example, the book has chapters numbered only in prime numbers, because the narrator is very fascinated with them.

    “Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”
    — Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time)

    There are numerous examples of math use in this book. That makes me think that the purpose of statistics in the abstract that you quoted is not actually to explain better, but to give an insight into the mind of this autistic boy. Therefore for this book my answer to your title would be: “Yes! Statistics can change the overall point of view of how I understand the story.” In this case, they make me think just like this boy and make the reading experience much more vivid and unforgettable.

    Hope this was helpful!

    All the best,
    Kate

    • poonamrajmane88 / Jun 5 2011 7:29 am

      Hello Kate,
      As you pointed out about the quote, well yeah its my mistake I should have mentioned it. I liked the way you explained the whole book in 2 paragraphs. I don’t know if I would have done the same things it would be relative to the topic I am discussing or not. Nevertheless, when I think about what you said about statistics it is true that it gives an insight on how this autistic boy thinks but it makes sense only when you can understand things better in the format which is presented.

      If statistics was incomprehensible one wouldn’t have understood the problem and the solution by which it is derived. Hence, statistics according to me is way better than explaining a major concept of science in words or paragraphs.

      The title that you suggested does make sense and it is really good. I wish I had used that.
      Thanks again.

      Regards,
      Poonam Rajmane

  4. Rachel / May 29 2011 11:43 am

    Hi Poonam,

    Interesting blog post. I thought the pictures and diagram were alot easier to understand then the writing also, suggesting that statistics can be simply understood. Although it was only through the tree diagram that I understood it from the boys point of view. Otherwise I would not have thought that the statistics, the maths formula, was not easy to understand and may not have agreed with his point of view.

    It depends how you bring your point of view across to your audience and what particular type of audience you are talking to, or trying to convince. Personally I am a visual person and find it hard to understand statistics if I can not picture a visual story or image related to the particular statistical problem. I guess in the end the point of view about the mathematical problem was brought across easily enough for a reader who is not ‘statistically wired’ to understand and agree.

    Regards,

    Rachel

    • poonamrajmane88 / Jun 5 2011 7:38 am

      Hello Rachel,
      I completely agree with you that target audience is the first thing when you are explaining a difficult concept. The maths formula mentioned in this book was easy to understand because me as a student loved mathematics when I was in school and I think I read this book at that stage. So when I read this book again to write a blog post it was not difficult to understand and the tree diagram is much more simpler for people who are “statistically wired”.
      This book i believe is read by both children and adults so understanding it is not that difficult especially when it comes to statistics because the examples here are explained in both visual and word format. So whoever is comfortable with statistics or sentences will understand the concept.
      Thanks for commenting on my post.

      Regards,
      Poonam Rajmane

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