Tuesday, June 03, 2014

error types

I don't know why Type I errors and Type II errors are called that. (Type I is incorrectly denying a null hypothesis that is true; Type II is incorrectly affirming a false null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is the opposite of what you believe is true. They are also called false positive and false negative. In either case, these errors involve believing something despite the evidence.) There have been various proposals for a Type III error -- for instance, cooking the evidence by setting up a trial that leads to a preordained conclusion, or misrepresenting the problem.

I can't keep them straight. I never have. "Type I" doesn't mean anything to me. Herewith, then, I propose an alternative error typology.

Dickhead Error. A Dickhead Error occurs when one continues to affirm a hypothesis that has been demonstrated to be false, often with increasing loudness. (The loudness can be vocal, but can also be expressed through revving a truck or SUV engine.)

Shithead Error. A Shithead Error occurs when one ignores all evidence contrary to a particular hypothesis, or contrary to any hypothesis whatsoever.

Asshole Error. An Asshole Error occurs when one formulates a hypothesis that serves to re-affirm the incorrigible certainty of one's perceptions, attitudes, orientations, goals, and even mood.

Fuckhead Error. A Fuckhead Error occurs when one ignores all perceptions, attitudes, orientations, goals, and even mood that are not one's own. (Fuckhead Error is often expressed loudly either vocally or through revving a truck or SUV engine.)

Making Shit Up Error. A Making Shit Up Error occurs when one invents, imagines, or indulges in fantasy of evidence. (Making Shit Up Error is often coincident with Shithead Error or Asshole Error.)

Wile E. Coyote Error. A Wile E. Coyote Error occurs when one formulates a hypothesis beyond one's capacity to test without causing oneself injury.

Oh, Right Error. An Oh, Right Error occurs when the probative evidence for or against a hypothesis is ignored until pointed out. (Often repeated ad nauseam.)

This error typology could have wide application, beyond scientific fields. For instance, during political debates, it's likely to come across instances of Dickhead, Shithead, Asshole, Making Shit Up, and even Fuckhead Error. Some political ideologies are composed of nothing else. I believe the typology could be handy in organizational governance meetings as well. How often have you observed your boss making an Asshole Error? With the proper terminology, you can clearly indicate the kind of error your boss has made, when you are in a job interview, answering a question about why you were fired.

The Wile E. Coyote type error is particularly useful for describing faulty reasoning by cats and skiers. Oh, Right Error, though ubiquitous, is still good to ascribe, in hopes that the faulty reasoning does not devolve into Shithead Error.

I'd like to see some publications adopting my improved error typology in the next few months, so get on it.

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