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Estrangement in a Strange Land: Justice DeLay-ed

The Case for the Teaching of 'Intelligent Retribution' Alongside Traditional Probability and Statistics Theory in High School Mathematics Classes

By Bob Woodiwiss · October 26th, 2005 · Estrangement in a Strange Land
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FOR: Dr. Adam Allupp, Professor of Mathematics, Stanford University

Scientists seek to observe, gather and interpret quantifiable, empirical data as a means of understanding events, processes and phenomena, both mundane and profound. In doing so, science illuminates and provides rational, objective explanations for our world and for our experiences in it. Put more succinctly, from chaos science brings order. And nowhere has this system of formulation and substantiation delivered more predictable, productive measurements than in my field, statistics and probability.

That is undoubtedly why it's so painful to admit that now, after decades of comprehensive review and repeated analysis of existing, verified data, the American Society of Statisticians is stumped. Beaten. Awed. By an incongruous, irresolvable anomaly. Specifically, the frequency distribution of comeuppance visited upon the population subgroup rated "arrogant, sanctimonious, intolerant and/or moralizing" is abnormally high. Inexplicably high. To a degree that simply cannot be reconciled or quantified by any existing or theorized laws of probability.

What this means in layman's terms is that insufferable, narrow-minded bastards tend to suffer major paybacks at a rate several thousand percent greater than members of less pompous, less didactic groups. This anomaly so far exceeds even the most unreasonable expectations, it can only be explained, we believe, by an invisible but cognizant "force" directing vengeance toward these individuals. In fact, it is the Society's hypothesis that the self-righteous and hubristic are brought low with such spectacular reliability that the "if/then" ratio not only defies logic but defeats it.

Certainly, the highest profile and most recent example of this force, this "intelligent retribution," if you will, is the criminal indictment of Tom DeLay, a pedagogue of indisputable credentials. But other, similar cases abound: the investigations of Bill Frist and Karl Rove; Trent Lott's precipitous fall; William Bennett's disgrace; Nixon and Agnew; the castigation and marginalization of Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, et al. Why, the stunning inevitability of such poetic reprisals elevates the irony to Biblical proportions.

In light of these observations, the American Society of Statisticians urges the Department of Education to require all schools receiving federal funds to present the theory of intelligent retribution as an accepted alternative to the insufficient, discredited scientific formulations of statistics and probability.

AGAINST: Rep. Tom DeLay, U.S. Congress, Texas 22nd District

I am both shocked and dismayed at the proposed curriculum change, not to mention the "hypothesis" put forward by Dr. Allupp and his lunatic fringe compatriots.

I never in all my years of public service ever imagined that anyone, let alone a so-called expert, a man of learning and tenure, would seek to undermine, with unproven conjecture and wishful thinking, the impartial, established, thoroughly professional classroom instruction conducted daily by the certified and dedicated math teachers of this nation's public schools.

To suggest that Tom DeLay's earnest actions and attitudes (not to mention those of friends, colleagues, even heroes of American history) somehow make him a proper victim of a wise and omnipotent "force" is outrageous, unfounded and an affront to the unimpeachable equations taught and applied in probability studies throughout our history. We cannot, we must not, let our educational system be hijacked, or worse, derailed, by a dangerous, ill-informed cabal that seeks to mislead and bamboozle our future intellectuals.

No. These enemies of our commonly accepted statistical formulae must be exposed for the dogmatists they are. Their so-called theory of "intelligent retribution," so recklessly bandied about, is no more than a sly name for "instant karma," a discredited, derivative belief of the Buddhist religion most famously extolled by no less a radical than John "I'm Bigger than Jesus" Lennon. Let's be clear: Dr. Allupp is advancing his personal belief system here, not a scientific fact or legitimate hypothesis. Think about it. Is Rick Santorum in jail? Is Ralph Reed under indictment? Is Grover Norquist disgraced? How about Antonin Scalia? Rush Limbaugh? Anne Coulter? Even Bush or Cheney? No, my fellow brain-using Americans, they are not. And they might never be. Which can only render intelligent retribution or any other theory of disproportionate, categorical comeuppance for me and my ideological brethren a false premise.

In reality, my forced abdication as House majority leader has nothing to do with any arrogance or hypocrisy on my part. I'm not being punished from above. Or celestially tested. I'm being pummeled, persecuted and prosecuted by earthly forces alone. By the politics of personal destruction as practiced by my enemies and which, over the many years I've been in Congress, has spontaneously, unstoppably evolved.

But I am far from defeated. Far. And until I am, I will fight to keep the spurious spiritualists, the cockeyed anti-empiricists and their fairytale theory of "poetic justice" out of America's classrooms. And to that I'll swear on a stack of statistical abstracts.



CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: bwoodiwiss(at)

FOR: Dr. Adam Allupp, Professor of Mathematics, Stanford University

Scientists seek to observe, gather and interpret quantifiable, empirical data as a means of understanding events, processes and phenomena, both mundane and profound. In doing so, science illuminates and provides rational, objective explanations for our world and for our experiences in it. Put more succinctly, from chaos science brings order. And nowhere has this system of formulation and substantiation delivered more predictable, productive measurements than in my field, statistics and probability.

That is undoubtedly why it's so painful to admit that now, after decades of comprehensive review and repeated analysis of existing, verified data, the American Society of Statisticians is stumped. Beaten. Awed. By an incongruous, irresolvable anomaly. Specifically, the frequency distribution of comeuppance visited upon the population subgroup rated "arrogant, sanctimonious, intolerant and/or moralizing" is abnormally high. Inexplicably high. To a degree that simply cannot be reconciled or quantified by any existing or theorized laws of probability.

What this means in layman's terms is that insufferable, narrow-minded bastards tend to suffer major paybacks at a rate several thousand percent greater than members of less pompous, less didactic groups. This anomaly so far exceeds even the most unreasonable expectations, it can only be explained, we believe, by an invisible but cognizant "force" directing vengeance toward these individuals. In fact, it is the Society's hypothesis that the self-righteous and hubristic are brought low with such spectacular reliability that the "if/then" ratio not only defies logic but defeats it.

Certainly, the highest profile and most recent example of this force, this "intelligent retribution," if you will, is the criminal indictment of Tom DeLay, a pedagogue of indisputable credentials. But other, similar cases abound: the investigations of Bill Frist and Karl Rove; Trent Lott's precipitous fall; William Bennett's disgrace; Nixon and Agnew; the castigation and marginalization of Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, et al. Why, the stunning inevitability of such poetic reprisals elevates the irony to Biblical proportions.

In light of these observations, the American Society of Statisticians urges the Department of Education to require all schools receiving federal funds to present the theory of intelligent retribution as an accepted alternative to the insufficient, discredited scientific formulations of statistics and probability.

AGAINST: Rep. Tom DeLay, U.S. Congress, Texas 22nd District

I am both shocked and dismayed at the proposed curriculum change, not to mention the "hypothesis" put forward by Dr. Allupp and his lunatic fringe compatriots.

I never in all my years of public service ever imagined that anyone, let alone a so-called expert, a man of learning and tenure, would seek to undermine, with unproven conjecture and wishful thinking, the impartial, established, thoroughly professional classroom instruction conducted daily by the certified and dedicated math teachers of this nation's public schools.

To suggest that Tom DeLay's earnest actions and attitudes (not to mention those of friends, colleagues, even heroes of American history) somehow make him a proper victim of a wise and omnipotent "force" is outrageous, unfounded and an affront to the unimpeachable equations taught and applied in probability studies throughout our history. We cannot, we must not, let our educational system be hijacked, or worse, derailed, by a dangerous, ill-informed cabal that seeks to mislead and bamboozle our future intellectuals.

No. These enemies of our commonly accepted statistical formulae must be exposed for the dogmatists they are. Their so-called theory of "intelligent retribution," so recklessly bandied about, is no more than a sly name for "instant karma," a discredited, derivative belief of the Buddhist religion most famously extolled by no less a radical than John "I'm Bigger than Jesus" Lennon. Let's be clear: Dr. Allupp is advancing his personal belief system here, not a scientific fact or legitimate hypothesis. Think about it. Is Rick Santorum in jail? Is Ralph Reed under indictment? Is Grover Norquist disgraced? How about Antonin Scalia? Rush Limbaugh? Anne Coulter? Even Bush or Cheney? No, my fellow brain-using Americans, they are not. And they might never be. Which can only render intelligent retribution or any other theory of disproportionate, categorical comeuppance for me and my ideological brethren a false premise.

In reality, my forced abdication as House majority leader has nothing to do with any arrogance or hypocrisy on my part. I'm not being punished from above. Or celestially tested. I'm being pummeled, persecuted and prosecuted by earthly forces alone. By the politics of personal destruction as practiced by my enemies and which, over the many years I've been in Congress, has spontaneously, unstoppably evolved.

But I am far from defeated. Far. And until I am, I will fight to keep the spurious spiritualists, the cockeyed anti-empiricists and their fairytale theory of "poetic justice" out of America's classrooms. And to that I'll swear on a stack of statistical abstracts.



CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: bwoodiwiss(at)citybeat.com. His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.
 
 
 
 

 

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