A four day conference with Ian. SOmething I had been looking forward to for educational purposes that later became just more fodder for "Tuesday Bad Dates".
I arrived at the conference with three other friends; we were 15 minutes late despite coming from just 12 miles away. Fortunately for us, the keynote address was also late, due to technical difficulties. We were all settling down in the back on the floor (there were not enough chairs for all the participant) when I got a text from Ian: "I saved a seat for you." SCORE! I turned to my friends: "I got a seat! Smell ya later suckas!"
ONce I found Ian and settled in, he wanted to compare which classes I had signed up for. (There were 5 different tracks at all times for 8 hours, 4 days) I pulled out my schedule and confessed that I kind of haphazardly signed up for the classes and figured that I could change my mind as the conference unfolded. Ian was a bit adament that I let him know exactly where I'd be, so he could be in the same class as me at all times. I was starting to feel a bit uneasy and started to tell him so when the technical difficulties were resolved and the keynote speakers began.
After the keynote address, I met one friend outside and set out to class number one with Ian in tow.
"Ian, this is Jane; Jane, Ian" I introduced them.
Ian wanted to know how Jane and I met, and do we still keep in touch, and isn't Heather the greatest? and what are we doing for dinner tonite?
Jane and I managed to keep Ian entertained until we reached the class. During this class, I had the opportunity to discover one of the qualities most socially inept people have that Ian clearly did not: intelligence. (Do I sound bitchy?)
The instructor was outlining a research study he had run and describing the results. I will remind you, this was a health care conference, not a rocket-science conference. Research in this area always tends to cofirm what we already know. You know when you hear on the news about how researchers spent 5 million dollars to prove that couch potatoes generally weigh more than competitive athletes? And think "duh"? It was a research study like that.
During the break, Ian said "Wow. The results are so different than what I expected."
I looked at him. "Really? It seems like common sense to me."
"No, common sense would tell you that blah, blah, blah, but the study said that bleh, bleh, bleh"
Then I realized that he didn't understand the statistical measurement they had used. Truth be told, I didn't really understand the statistics, either, but I could see how it worked. I explained that the lower the number, the higher the statistical significance.
"No. The number always needs to be higher."
"Look," I pointed to the results "This factor is what we would expect to be relevant. And the number is low. Same with these other factors. But this other factor that clearly has nothing to do with the results, that was just thrown in there for the heck of it, has a high number. It is NOT significant. See?"
He couldn't see.
After the break, he argued with the course instructor about the statistics. Several other people tried to explain it to him. He couldn't get it.
At lunch break, he was still stewing about the statistics from class number one.
"Hey!" I said. "I'll settle this once and for all." I text messaged Nerd. (this was when Nerd was nothing but a nerd to me)
He texted back right away: "A P value is statistically significant when it is less than .05"
(It's like having my own personal google service)
I was right. That settled the question of what the statistics meant. And Ian found something else to obsess about: "Who was Nerd and why had I texted him?"
the story contiues next week...