Sunday, February 24, 2013

O Scars

"Who will win the Oscars tonight", I asked Susan.  "Who cares", replied Susan ..... "and why do they have them anyway?".   That's simple - we live in a world of competitiveness; there is a desire to know who is the best; the need to rank everything from high to low.  This world of first place ....  and last place has the potential to create scars - the "losers". 

As a statistician, I am always ranking items from high to low, marveling over the distribution, calculating the mean and standard deviation.  To me, it's not about winners and losers - it's the normal distribution of any set of data.  Without two standard deviations the world would be boring.  Winners and Losers are needed to create equilibrium in life. 

The best picture is also a function of how you define "best".  In the case of the Oscars the rules are 31 pages long and you must be a member (by invitation only) of the non profit Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (in 1927 with 36 members is now over 6000). It looks pretty incestuous and biased (from a statisticians point of view).  Maybe that was George C. Scotts reason for refusing the 1971 Best Actor award for his role in Patton - or maybe it was the 31 page rules and required signature and regulation on acceptance of the Oscar (see page five of the rules). 

And what determines the most votes?  Is "best" the count of only the first place votes .... or is there an algorithm that weights the second, third and fourth choices of the ballot.  Who is auditing this method and tally?  How do we know the process is fair and unbiased?  Hmmm......   The Best Picture gets a number but what does that really mean?  

Maybe Susan is right-   WHO CARES ?   Take out the "w" the "h" and "e" - randomize the letters and rearrange them and you get OSCAR.

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