Monday, November 10, 2008

Why You Should Use Your Brain When You Read Statistics: A Case Study

So I got my electric bill over the weekend, and it was $23.83, down from $27 last month. (Woohoo! That's 3 Frosties!!) (It would have been 4 Frosties, but they raised the price on the 99 cent Frosty - now it's $1.19.) (Which totally defeats the purpose of the 99 cent Frosty, if you ask me.) And there was a little blurb on the bill saying that I could sign up for the "budget payment plan," which equalizes your payments over the whole year, based on the average billing amount, so that you can avoid spikes in the bill and plan your monthly budget more effectively, blah blah blah, and my monthly payment would be...$15.

Uh, now, I know I'm not a math major, but unless there have been MAJOR changes in the way numbers work since I last calculated a mean, $15 is not the average of $27 and $23.83. Even though I am not a math major, I do know that $15 < $23.83, so on the theory of, "gosh! wouldn't it be nice if $15 WAS the average of $27 and $23.83?!" (just THINK how many Frosties I could afford!!) I called the electric company to check up on it. And sure enough, they got that amount by averaging electricity costs in the apartment for the last 6 months...during which the apartment was unoccupied for several months. So yeah, $27 and $23.83 and a couple of $0's? They do average out to $15. And when they went back to check the time period during which the apartment was occupied, the average was $40. And I know that $23.83 < $40, so I'll just stick with paying my actual bill, thank you very much.



merrilykaroly said...

I was under the impression that grad school might "make you dumb" as the expression goes.

Apparently not. You're a smarty pants.

Margaret said...

I'm trying desperately to redeem myself after several weeks of apparent stupidity. How am I doing?! :)

My next post will be about how I've already finished my dissertation and been begged to chair the department. It will be a lie. This post, however, is true.

Brooke said...

I'm glad that you figured it all out on your own. :) Personally, I love the equal payment plan. But, I don't usually sign up for it until I've been the place for a year, that way it actually goes by what I use and not someone else's utility costs.

NoSurfGirl said...

Dang! You coulda gotten away with it, if you hadn't been so curious..

I'm partial to Wendy's frosties myself.

Danielle said...

Simply put, this is just a great post. Lol. I thought preschoolers made you dumb, because I'm finding it hard to do basic math (or remember things). ;) (Perhaps, it's the haircolor, but I prefer to blame it on my three-year-olds whom I love, but were stinkers yesterday).

Anyway, keep posting... and include some pictures PLEASE! I haven't seen you in nearly a year, and I miss you!

Jeremy said...

'k don't joke about being a dept. chair. I've realized I'm in line for that... "privilege."

See, the position of "chair" rotates through the tenured faculty - one every three years. The current chair has a couple of years left, and after that there is exactly one healthy tenured professor who hasn't already been chair, who we will call "Pat". (Actually, there's two, but one would resign rather than be chair.)

In the dept, there are two tenure track faculty who should be tenured when "Pat" finishes his/her stint as chair. One's me, and the other is a colleague who got hired the same time I did and is pregnant, so she may take some time off and fall behind me on her tenure clock.

The result: I could be forced into a chair in another four years. I'm NOT looking forward to it.

thecutestcouple (Crystal) said...

Please say that heat is included in your rent or your bill will not equal $15 per month. We find our bill goes down in the winter as we don't have to pay heat, thankfully - but have a minimum and maximum temperature that we can set our thermostat (it seriously won't let us turn it below 60 or above 76 - which is fine for us as we usually keep it at 64-68.)