Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Science Speak Goes For a Test Drive

Anna married into the life of a sportswriter well-prepared. She has SportsSpeak, a series of four sentences designed to project an understanding of sports without requiring much knowledge of them. She has used these to great effect on co-workers and sources of mine, which is always good for a private laugh since I recognize them immediately. When Trixie, whom Anna credits with the invention from SportsSpeak, tries to use them on me, my response is usually a swift "Fuck you."

But with Anna firmly entrenched on the science track, the pendulum is swinging. Last week, we attended a gathering for students in Anna's program at the School of Public Health. Being hopelessly socially awkward, I had been waiting for this moment with a mix of anticipation and dread. Anna's program is 6-to-1 women, so my initial plan was to seek out other husbands, let slip I was a sportswriter and then try to talk about that for the evening. I love to talk about myself. But there were no other husbands around. Plan B was ScienceSpeak, which I have been thinking about since Anna was accepted to school in March, but not yet perfected. So far I've derived two sentences
  • Well, so much depends on the funding
  • But, can those results be replicated?
Anna says those will work fine in a scientific setting. So in my first attempt to use ScienceSpeak, I ended up in a long discussion of open-wheel auto racing with a woman in Anna's program. This was a surprise, since she did not immediately give off the aura of gearhead.

I know exactly three things about open-wheel racing.
  1. Its fans believe that NASCAR people are same people who think that Guns'n'Roses' "November Rain" video qualifies as classical music.
  2. That there was some big squabble at the administrative end, so for some reason there are two circuits that are struggling to make money rather than one that might consolidate interest in the sport.
  3. Everyone who knows understands that Danica Patrick (link slightly unsafe for work) is just eye candy, and that if you want a real female driver, you should watch Katherine Legge.
So we ended up talking for half an hour. But I was the one doing the SportsSpeaking. I do plan to give the sport a chance at some point, just because it wouldn't hurt to be able to write knowledgeably about it in the future. So who knows, maybe I'll watch some auto racing at some point.

It was, however, a crushing defeat for ScienceSpeak. But Anna has plenty of years left in epidemiology. So at this point in the season, it could still go either way.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 11, 2005 3:33 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • What about confounding?

    What did the power calculation say?

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at December 11, 2005 7:31 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • How do you think that will impact the Odds Ratio?


  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 12, 2005 7:28 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I find that saying that something the other person said "sounds suspiciously like something Hitler would say" is a good closer.

    Also, you might want to work in "maximizing your utility curve" into the conversation. I know that is more economics, but I find it works in many different contexts.

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