Saturday, May 14, 2016

Statistics and Biased Interpretation Thereof

This week Secretary of Energy Moniz tweeted that US CO2 emissions are way down using the chart shown above.  I looked at the chart and came to the conclusion that it is true that CO2 emissions are reduced from a decade ago, but and a big but during the three years Ernie Moniz has been secretary of energy emissions have not gone down at all.  Therefore Dr. Moniz was simply pointing out his own incompetence by publicizing the chart.

When I pointed this out to friends who are so left they can never be right, they complained that I dislike Moniz.  When I pointed this out to right wing nuts who deny global warming, they agreed Moniz was ineffective and went further that he should be impeached for wasting tens of billions of dollars.  The interpretation of data is subject to the bias of the beholder.

I then tested the hypothesis on what right wing nuts would say about the success of solar energy.  These climate change deniers who make Stevie Wonder have twenty twenty vision present charts the show massive growth in the gigawatt hours of solar generation and then disqualify this as still only contributing 0.9% of all the electrons in the grid.  Left wing nuts looking at the same data came to the conclusion that in a decade all fossil fuel fired power generation station will be shut.  Of course I concluded that PV is highly successful and will play a very useful niche role that will grow to approximately 10% in power generation.

People are highly biased and the data are interpreted to reinforce the bias.  Honest interpretation of data requires impartiality and actually not looking at only the mean of the data but the variance within the data set.  I know a professor of decisions sciences at Stanford named Sam Savage who wrote a textbook titled The Flaw of Averages.  Sam says “plans based on average assumptions are wrong on average.”

Over 40 years ago I wrote a master thesis on business decisions using statistical distributions.  The results of my research were then used in gold mining and the decisions under great uncertainty to invest large amounts of capital in a gold mine.  That is why I look at all data presented to me critically and make more profound interpretations of what the data tell.  I must admit though when Ernie Moniz presents any data I just laugh as I know this guy is the living embodiment of Alfred E. Neuman and is a joke of an energy secretary.


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