Monday, July 5, 2010

A statistical nightmare

Today's guest post is courtesy of Lanita Moss. Here is a brief bio:

She is married with two adopted girls.  She is a lawyer & business woman.  She and her husband have cattle interests in Texas and New Mexico.

She is also a breast cancer survivor and in 1998 co-founded the Young Survival Coalition, an organization for young women affected by breast cancer.
Her first husband was killed in 1998 in the Swissair 111 plane crash off the coast of Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. This sparked a concern with aviation safety, including sitting on the board of directors of the National Air Disaster Alliance.
She always been fascinated by the different roles that today’s woman plays. For example, wife, mother, lawyer, business woman, nurse, chef, chauffeur, wanna-be artist, breast cancer survivor, etc., etc., etc.

Without further fanfare, "A Statistical Nightmare" ...

I am not a math person. Really. So when Tammy put out an SOS that she was taking a Multivariate Statistics class this summer, my heart went out to her. I felt her pain, but better her than me.

Let me say it again…I AM NOT A MATH PERSON. When I was in high school I took Algebra I because I was on the college track. I did OK, but it is something that doesn’t come very naturally. My plan for the class was to have a high enough average because when we hit the story problem section, my grade was going to take a nosedive. If I had a high enough average, then I could somewhat recover by the end of the semester.

My foolproof plan didn’t work as well with Geometry. Almost flunked that class. However, I did graduate with a GPA that would get me into college. The University of Illinois. (Go Illini!) I started out my college career as a psychology major. Each college within the university had their own graduation requirements. Psychology fell within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The College of LAS required multiple years of a foreign language and statistics. There was no way I was ever going to mumble my way through multiple years of French and I was SO afraid of the 5 hour Stats requirement that I changed my major. Yep…changed it. I didn’t want to really be a psychologist anyway. I wanted to be a sports psychologist…you know, study the psyche of athletes…or the physiques of athletes. I found out that I could change majors, study athletes (!) and avoid French and statistics. What a deal!

I eventually went on to get my BS in Kinesiology, which wasn’t a whole lot of help when I went to law school. The joke in law school is that lawyers don’t do math…that’s why they go to law school. The only law school classes that have anything to do with math are Federal Taxation and Business Organizations. Surprisingly, Fed Tax was my first A in law school…I think because I was SO afraid of the math…or the government. When we got to the part in Bus. Org that had to do with equations…you could hear the entire class hold their breath in fear and start to pop out in sweat…that’s how bad lawyers hate math…except on how to figure out their fees.

So, now I am highly educated. I have many degrees hanging on my wall, but not one of them…NOT ONE OF THEM required statistics. I should get a degree for statistical avoidance!

So my hat is off to Tammy for tackling a degree that requires Multivariate Statistics. She clearly is smarter than me. Good luck Tammy.

Please visit Lanita @


  1. I love this!!! I too am mathematically challenged (that is if the challenge is to attempt to do, learn about, or think about math). I remember helping our daughter through high-school statistics... let me just say, SHE is smarter at 16 than I am at 45! Hats off to you Tammy, I don't know if I could do it!

  2. Lanita rocks, definitely one of my favourite ladies! I have so much respect for her story & what a strong woman she is! As for the math...well, Lanita knows what I always say...I'm too pretty to do math. So I just never do.


  3. Glad I'm not the only one mathematically challenged, lol. This is my last math class forever & ever, amen!!

  4. Thanks, Lanita for the post! I, too am mathaphobic. In fact, I was able to get out of high school calculus by convincing my guidance counselor it was causing undue stress in my life. No joke! I'll head over to your blog...

  5. The horror that is math. Horror! And story problems were always my waterloo, too. I cheated my way through math in high school. I thought of it as survival.

  6. Crystal ~ too clever!!
    TKW ~ I hear ya about math being a horror. Had to laugh, just had an evaluation @ the university in a futile attempt to get out of this class. The last line of the summary ... "Mrs. Patrick should consider a career in a field other than mathematics"!! Duh, my point exactly!! LOL

  7. I've know Lanita since we were young. She's indeed an awesome and awe-inspiring lady. While I, too; was never very good at math, I somehow managed to overcome it. Although statistics? Not certain I would ever overcome that! My husband is a mathematical genius.

    Go Illini!