Monday, December 12, 2011

"Standard Deviation" or "Whatever Do You MEAN?"

Standard deviation: from probability theory/statistics: a widely-used measure of variability or diversity that shows how much variation or "dispersion" exists from the average (mean).

A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean, whereas high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a large range of values.

Deviation. Deviant. Apart from the "norm" or "standard."

In other words (ie. plain English): just exactly how fucking weird are you?

Where does your data point fall?

I've always felt a bit like an outsider. When other children were pretending to be horses on the elementary school playground (Stephanie Lipsky and Nicole Quinn), I and my friends were discussing birth control (I wish I were making this up.) When my gymnastics group lined up their equipment for performance, I refused to release mine. Why should I trust some other bozo with my equipment? I put the stickers on that shit, I should get to hold it!

When it came to childrens' games, I always took over--not because I wanted to rule the roost, per se. Just because I saw the inefficiencies on how things were being done (by 8 year-olds) and decided from that tender age that I could "do it better."

Despite the bredth of my academic pursuits, I've had few classes that incorporated bell curves. But in each of those you could count on me to be the one asshole to throw the average. (Econ 1101 an obvious exception.)

Yes. I learned early the value of "maximize profits while minimizing risks." Or minimizing others. Guess I have been guilty of that too... I made a life of attempting to live at the apex of the bell curve.

And ironically, I think it may have made me mean.

Lately I've been thinking about life's little bell curve. The apexes and the fringes and the data points in between. I've been thinking of where I fall on the curve...and where I used to fall...and whether or not the deviation between those two points means that I am falling.

And when does falling become failing? Or failing become flailing?

Have I deviated too far from the mean?

And if so, what does that mean?

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