Monday, June 30, 2014

Paper training a not-so-great Dane

Yeah. That guy.
I apologize if that last post confused you. I was in the midst of slapping down a Danish ham who had accused me of plagiarism and lying. As you can imagine, blog-post decorum was the last thing on my mind.

The whole thing started when Peter Ravn Rasmussen--a pompous ass who publicly declared, "I know almost everything. Truly."--took issue with a post I wrote about the "74 school shootings" myth that was winding its way through the Internet.

Unable to refute my point, he instead took issue with my use of the word "randomly," suggesting that rather than "randomly" selecting the examples I used to make my case, I had actually copied them from a Glen Beck article on the same topic. The only problem was no such Glen Beck article existed. It seems Peter R. Rasmussen, "Super Genius," simply made the whole thing up.

Now, as most of you know, I like a good argument. And I am (generally) willing to admit when I'm wrong. But I don't cotton to being called a plagiarist and a liar so--after giving him fair warning--I unleashed a bit of American diplomacy on his highly educated...self.

In retrospect, it was probably not a good use of my time to lock horns with a guy who has a webpage dedicated to his college report card. (Apparently, his mother's refrigerator door wasn't recognition enough.) But when you get called a liar by the type of guy who posts this on the web, well, you just gotta take a stand.

"[O]ver the past few years, I have been studying history at Copenhagen University, in Denmark. During that time, my grades have been unfailingly high, and I have managed to achieve a BA with one of the highest grade averages in university history. Obviously, this presents me with a unique chance to brag - and to be perfectly frank, I am incapable of resisting the temptation."

The following is the exchange between me and the current Dane of my existence. I apologize in advance for the earthy language.

June 11 at 6:55pm 
Peter Ravn Rasmussen: Want to do the math on the probability that you would "randomly" select precisely the same incidents that Glenn Beck seized on?

June 11 at 7:26pm 
John Doyle: I'd love to let you all carry on without interruption, but I do need to straighten out one commenter. Peter, I haven't even seen Beck's piece, so you'll have to save your polemics for some other angle of attack on my post. To the extent that I started my investigation with Fresno because I lived there once, I plead guilty. The rest were selected as randomly as I could manage (what with my ACME List Randomizer still in the shop and all) -- so while truly not random, they certainly weren't selected to suit an agenda. That is all. Carry on.

June 11 at 7:35pm 
Peter Ravn Rasmussen 0.0000000000013919687 That's quite an achievement. Sure you're not psychic?

June 11 at 7:39pm 
Peter Ravn Rasmussen: Seriously, dude, can you give me next week's lotto numbers?

June 11 at 7:42pm 
John Doyle: As of this moment I haven't seen his post. Send me a link. And generally speaking, I can only be polite about being called a liar for just ... so ... long, as anyone who knows me well will attest. Tread lightly, chum.

June 11 at 7:50pm 
John Doyle: Hey Pete, I can't even find a Beck post about the shooting. You've called me a liar twice, now I (and the class) want to see the "evidence." Cough it up.

June 11 at 11:39pm
John Doyle: Hey, Peter Ravn Rasmussen. Still waiting on the Glenn Beck link. Step to it, man! Lives are at stake.

June 12 at 1:13am 
Peter Ravn Rasmussen: I do have to sleep and work some time, you know, John -- and being in a different time zone means I do that at my convenience, not yours. Sitting here over my morning coffee, I can't presently find the Glenn Beck list I referenced (I don't go making bookmarks of his ravings, as you well know). So, if it comes down to that, I have no link to reference (mostly because my google-fu can't find it right now -- but if I do, I will link it later).

But let's just for the sake of argument take the Blaze article referenced above, and consider it. Your list, which you call random, coincides in 5 of its 10 "not a 'school shooting' because reasons" instances with the Blaze list of 31 incidents. So what's the probability of that, assuming you did what you claim, and just drew ten random numbers? 0.01054773662 About 100 to 1.

If that's random, John, it's a highly improbable outcome. Now, if you'd just started out by saying, "I've looked at the list, and there are some cases that strike me as problematic", you would have been on perfectly sound ground -- you might even have gotten me to agree that some of them should have been avoided. Even though the 74 listed incidents were selected by a quite transparent methodology, that doesn't mean the method could not have been refined to be more convincing, by leaving out some of the cases. I'd have been the first to admit that. But you had to go and poke my math-brain by claiming that your list was "random". Not the smartest move.

June 12 at 9:23 am
John Doyle: Peter Ravn Rasmussen, I'm going to "unfriend" you now. But before I do I want to you to know that if you had pulled this stunt within 200 miles of me--calling me a liar and then blaming ME when you couldn't back up your slander--I would have taken the time to track you down to discuss this face to face. Adios, mother fucker. 

1 comment:

  1. You really need to stop poking peoples math brains.