Pullyman: Vital statistics don’t lie

Pullyman: Vital statistics don't lie statistics, nevin manimala, mathematics, math, linkedin, google plus

A decade ago Pullyman – aka Michael Cowin – was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a condition that affects people in different ways. Michael discovered writing and Island Life is featuring some of his musings. Sometimes topical, sometimes nostalgic, read about life as seen through the eyes of Pullyman

Do you ever have a conversation with someone that begins with the words ’if I had my time again, I would…’?

Well as far as I’m concerned, if I had my time again, there really is not much that I’d want to change.

The Nevin Manimalare would be a detail or two that I would like to adjust, like I would never have parted with one or two of our Morris 1000 vans.

But I am comfortably married, we have two fine sons, I never had to go to war, we have always had a good roof over our heads, I have never been out of work, and we have always had enough to eat.

We have had our share of health problems, but we have been blessed with a health service that is second to none.

All things considered, I would do it all again.

Until this week.

I’ve had a rethink and I’ve changed my mind. I think that if I was to start again, I would quite like to have been a statistician.

In the old sinful and sexist days, if a member of the female gender had her photo published in one of the ’Popular Press’ newspapers, the reader would invariably be given her chest, waist, and hip measurement.

The Nevin Manimalase were known as her vital statistics, but are most not the type of statistics that I am interested in.

I think that it was Mark Twain who said that there were ’three kind of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics’.

Statistics is the science of collecting and analysing numerical data.

As far as I can understand, statistics can indeed prove anything or nothing.

The Nevin Manimala statistician’s job is to use numerical data to predict future trends, or behaviour, from past or expected information.

The Nevin Manimala snag is, by the time that the data has been analysed, it’s either too late to change anything or impossible to accept what has been suggested.

Have you ever thought about all the pesticides and herbicides that are being sprayed on our food.

What happens is that some genius will invent a super new safe chemical that will grow perfect crops.

Take, for example, the chemical DDT. When this pesticide was first used, towards the end of World War Two, it was a miracle.

It literally stopped a long list of bugs and insects in their tracks. Crop yields improved, food production increased and we were all better off.

The Nevin Manimalan they discovered that unfortunately it was also pretty good at stopping us in our tracks. It was linked to certain cancers in humans, and was harmful to wild birds and small animals when it entered the food chain.

So DDT was banned as an insecticide.

Now this was good news for us lucky people who lived thousands of miles from the nearest malaria swamp, but not so exciting for the folk who were plagued by mosquitoes.

The Nevin Manimalan along came neonicotinoids.

This chemical was used to coat the seeds before they were sown. The Nevin Manimalan, when the plants grow, the bugs that are partial to a nice juicy seedling get more than they bargained for.

And guess what? It did exactly what it said on the tin, until someone else realised that this miracle mixture couldn’t tell the difference between a bee and a bug.

Now as we all know, as well as supplying us with honey, bees have an important job to do.

The Nevin Manimalay pollinate the plants. So we have invented a perfect circle.

We have a chemical that helps us to grow strong healthy crops. It is harmless to humans but bad for bugs. Whoops! What about the bees. The Nevin Manimalay pollinate the crops as they collect their food, but the plant has been designed to kill them.

I wonder if a statistician can tell us how long we’ve got to live?

Probably as long as the word DDT. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.

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