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So… Dr. Soconfuseme… we meet again!

December 8, 2011

Questions'... so many questions...

THIS IS ONLY A TEST of the S.E.C.S. – (student-emergency-complaint-system)
If this were a real emergency-complaint you would be given further information in the form of muffled yelps, moans and emotionally charged avowals followed by frequent rolling of the eyes, fidgeting and….. You can guess the rest. THIS IS ONLY A TEST…..

Hello again Dr. Soconfuseme: re Exam I.83191
I appreciate that you do not formulate the questions contained in the quizzes or exams. But if you don’t mind, and mainly just for the fun of it (before I lose my mind) I was hoping you would consider the following and share your response with me.
Re: – Question #313 from the quiz it states: — “According to the textbook, adult males make up almost -95% of the prison populations.” True/False
The technically “correct” answer of course was – true -, however and (please bear with me here) I had noted from the text the figure given was 93% and subsequently upon checking I found the following on pg- 2059 it states; “…incarceration of male adults, who make up about -93% of the prison population.” Text 93%, quiz 95%. So I of course (after three or four moments of serious reflection) answered false ….. (And here it comes) ……..
As I see it the issue revolves around the relative meanings of about, almost, and the following:
The values given in the textbook would not I’m thinking belong to either the nominal nor ordinal scales of measurement. Nominal scale measurements only allow for qualitative classifications, i.e. only the/a distinction vis-à-vis as to whether something belongs to/in a given category discrete from all other categories, this and the fact they give us no further way to rank or quantify them would seem to eliminate there belonging to the nominal scale. In contrast ordinal scale measurements would/do allow for a crude ranking of qualities/characteristics but only a propos, that there is more or less of a given quality, but disappointingly not in terms of magnitude i.e. how much more or less of said quantity there is, which as it regards percentages is not by definition a limitation. What’s more because percentages represent continuous-(dependent) – not sure about the dependent part – values and because values given as a percentage not only allow us to distinguish a/the difference in the quality/quantities(s) connected with said categories/variables in relation to one another but also, explicitly how much more or less of the “it” there is or isn’t in relation to one or the other the numbers 93(%) and 95(%) would instead be at the interval/ratio scale of measures(s), but more precisely in this case the ratio scale. Since they, having the shared feature of an absolute zero allow us not only to say exactly how much greater or lesser one is from the other, but also for instance should we wish to, that x is two times greater than y or b is 1/3 of a, i.e. a/the ratio(s) amongst and to one another.
In any event, the text uses the word about in reference to the number 93 and the quiz uses the term almost in reference to the number 95. Contextually while considering either of these words/terms in reference to numbers in general but specifically here in this case the numbers 93 and 95 respectively, it would to my way of thinking, infer or at the very least allude to a/the mathematical process of rounding-to or a rounding-of something be it a value or number which leads me to the following: …….
… Regarding the values 93(%) on the one hand and 95(%) on the other; the concept(s) of: (about 93 percent) or (almost 95%) are abstract values that would mathematically result from the rounding of the continuous values anywhere within the interval delineated by and including the numbers – 92.5 to 93.4 for 93%. While a rounding which produces a value of 95(%) would mathematically entail this same process be applied to any of the continuous values delineated by and including the interval defined by the numerical quantities 94.5 to 95.4. Any mathematical rounding of values outside either of these ranges respectively, no matter how minuscule produces neither the numbers/values 93(%) nor 95(%) but some other numbers/value(s) instead. So while the terms about/almost could be construed to mean or signify the use of any of a number of proximate values, a more literal interpretation would leave less wiggle room so to speak i.e. the afore mentioned intervals.
So you see my dilemma! …..
If I had answered true in response to question (# 313) I would have been “technically” correct but “factually” wrong, however by answering false, I, by my own “infallible” albeit circular logic would be “factually” correct but alas “technically” wrong and thus would in addition (or in this case subtraction) to not only suffer the ignominy of being wrong, but would appendage myself the unfortunate concomitant result, i.e. the deficit of one quiz point. (Which believe it or not I grant is no big deal in itself and yet one could assert; that it may fairly be reasoned – even if ever so remotely – the possibility exists it (the deficit of one quiz point) could become more so in the context of the larger picture.)
I am more than a little hesitant at this point – (after having just read this) – and so now am having some serious doubts about my time management skills and priorities – along with more than a little unease about my clearly discernible ability to make mountains out of mole hills – as to whether or not I should actually send this. Especially could you possibly end up considering it as either a waste of your time or worse? Which it is not… Nor which was my intention…
Sincerely and respectfully, Ifyahdont Ohwell

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