Angry Doctor

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gays spread AIDS, Malay kids are dumb 2

Once again, the title is deliberately provocative.

The release of the PSLE results has prompted discussions on the correlation between the students' race and their performance.

One blogger, featured on The Singapore Daily, views the news that the top student this year is a Malay child thus:

"I’m not much of a statistics person, but I do detect something interesting. Looking at the past PSLE trends, it would statistically be more likely to find Chinese top students than Malay or Indian ones. However, as you can see, in 2005, 2006 and 2007, statistics & probability take a back seat as non-Chinese students score top marks.

2007 is particularly intriguing for me. Of the listed top 16 students, all were Chinese except for Natasha (which works fine statistically, I suppose). But for Natasha to be the top-scorer ahead of her Chinese peers is a statistic anomaly (but possible). Not only that, Natasha was not only the top student in 2007 (apparently by being a few marks clear of the other top students), she is also the highest scoring PSLE student EVER, for Chinese, Indian, Malay or students from any other ethnic group. This is statistically improbable (but possible, let me just say that)."

Mr Wang has his own theory about why "the minority races (Malays and Indians) seem to be statistically overrepresented among the very top PSLE performers", and in his comments section he wrote:

"I'm just talking about probabilities.... If the majority of GEP students were Chinese, probability tells that the top GEP student is likely to be Chinese. None of the above is sexist or or racist, but simply mathematical. The actual outcome, however, went against probability for three straight years in a row, and so the question is whether this is just a statistical quirk, or whether there is some other factor like what I, or the other blogger, or some readers here, have mentioned."

There is, in reality, no statistical quirk.

The statistics only appear as an anomaly to us because the way that the data was presented to us has led us to see a pattern where there was none to begin with.

The fact is that that years of being presented with the PSLE results categorised by the students' race have led us to think that the students' performance are somehow a function of their race.

But what does all this have to do with gays and AIDS?

Well, for that, you'll have to read Part 1 of this post.

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