Saturday, February 26, 2005

Where do they get these people?

My wife took me to her gym this morning, as I didn't feel like running outside in the 28 degree sun. As a result, I was obliged to run 4 miles on a treadmill watching CNN. This, my friends, is not very fun.

Anyway, as I was watching, the Wichita, KS, city government announced they were having a press conference about the BTK serial killer. To fill in the dead time before the conference, CNN had their Atlanta announcer doing color commentary with their Wichita correspondent. For 10 minutes, my earphones were filled with all sorts of newspeak inanity. I had to yank out my earphones and stop running, though, when the following bit of dialogue took place:

Atlanta: Could you tell us a little about the BTK killer for those unfamiliar with this story?

Wichita: Sure, he killed 8 people during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Atlanta: Were there any patterns to these killings?

Wichita: Well, the killer seemed to target women. According to my analysis, these women were mostly in their twenties.

I had to quit listening after this I was so annoyed. I mean, technically speaking, looking at 8 murders and determining the median age of the victims is an analyis. But really? Is that an analysis? Did the guy add anything to our knowledge of the case that a well-trained monkey with a pencil couldn't have? Analysis, as I think of it, entails taking a set of data, finding patterns or subsets of that data, and using those to identify some larger significance for the data set.


According to my analysis, 5 out of the last 6 breakfasts I've eaten consisted of oatmeal and coffee.


Is that meaningful? Hell no. But consider the fact that my family has a history of heart disease, that my last blood test showed an LDL cholesterol level of 216, and that I have an aversion to taking unnecessary pharamceutical products. In light of those facts, the oatmeal statistic may have some relevance.

Anyway, we all know that cable news sucks, I'm really just bitching because its Saturday and I spent my morning running on a treadmill.