succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, April 05, 2004

Math is Hard!

A new study has found that downloading music files for free may not actually be hurting album sales. Of course, this needs to be replicated before the results are really trustworthy, blah blah blah. What I think is really funny is that the crux of the music industry's argument against the study's findings appears to be simply that the analysis is too hard to understand. At one point the article states, "Using complex mathematical formulas, they determined that spikes in downloading had almost no discernible effect on sales." And later

One consultant, Russ Crupnick, vice president of the NPD Group, called the report "absolutely astounding." Asked to explain how the professors' analysis might be mistaken, he said he was still trying to understand the complex document: "I am not the level of mathematician that the professors purport to be."

I love that he basically accuses the professors of faking their mathematical abilities. I'm sorry, but I'm not so sure I'd be calling out economists from the Harvard Business School and UNC - Chapel Hill on their math skills. Of course, it is very likely that a rigorous study does contain complex mathematical analyses. But it's equally likely that, to a lay person, any equation containing a single Greek letter look complex and intimidating. I just hate that the slant of the article seems to be that math is scary and not understanding it is enough reason to doubt the results of a study. Damn innumeracy!


Post a Comment

<< Home