Logical Gal and how contrasts help

3 Jul


How to understand a new concept – that is the question!

I heard a writer say that drawing CONTRASTS brings CLARITY.

This resonated with me, because intuitively I’ve picked up seeking contrast.  Living with a mathematical and analytical kind of guy exposes me to many new concepts I would probably avoid if I could!  So when Michael attempts to explain something like ‘standard deviation’  I have NO framework at all on which to hang this new idea.  My first question in all these kinds of conversations tends to be like the following:

  • ‘standard’ deviation as opposed to what? non-standard deviation?  and is there standard ‘pattern-following‘ as opposed to standard ‘deviation’?

Those 2 questions probably sound lame, but I’m trying to fill in the blanks and mostly all is blank when I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Knowing what something is NOT establishes boundaries.  And boundaries help the mind’s eye.

boundary lines

Back to those standard deviations…..I found out that the contrast to ‘standard’ deviation was ‘absolute’ deviation.  And that ‘deviation’ refers to the spread among gathered information in a group or set of data points.

What FURTHER brought clarity was not just this CONTRASTing information, but how standard deviations could be used. Never mind how one calculates it, but the information gained from determining the SD is satisfyingly useful, even to me, Miss Non-Analytical.

One quick example: if you record your daily weight for a month and calculate the standard deviation of all your numbers (or let the spread sheet do it for you!), you  learn that 95 % of your daily recorded weights will fall within the boundary or limits of the average weight (they call it the mean)  plus or minus 2 standard deviations.  That’s the green area under the red curved line below.

standard deviations - 2

So….???  The way this is helpful is that if I step on the scale after a big meal eating out and my weight is NOT within the green area, I can say to myself:

  • Self – don’t worry.  This is just an outlier, not your norm.  Give it a day or 2 and your weight will be back in the green.  No cause to panic!

Who would have thought that an analytical concept could bring some degree of peace of mind?  Now what else have I missed?

Question:  what do you do to begin to understand or grasp a new concept?  What questions do you ask?



2 Responses to “Logical Gal and how contrasts help”

  1. Patricia Godel Gray July 4, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Interesting! I usually begin with a dictionary and get clear definitions; nowadays, I’d google the subject and read Wiki-info. My HS math teacher (Sister Agnes Maureen Badura, a Sister of Providence at St. Mary of the Woods, IN, retired) taught us to take our textbook in hand, and begin to read a new section. If we understood EACH WORD in the sentence, go on to the next. Work through the examples, and do as many problems as we need to nail down the concept, and raise our hands if we had questions. That was a typical 3rd/4th year math class with her. I taught myself to sew and do other crafts by the same method. Except for the raising of hands…I’d have to try a new “thing” myself, and learn by doing.

    BTW – those aren’t your feet on the beach, are they?? I’d expect yours to be longer and slimmer! (That’s from someone who spent nearly 2 hours trying to find a comfortable pair of shoes the other day! Not long OR slender, and bumpy with arthritis feet!


  2. Maria July 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Trish – rarely are the photos of me or family – just stock photos I find!
    You are a ‘get-right-down-to-it’ hardworking gal! I’d say that was mid-west character, but you’re not from the midwest!

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