In college statistics, I realized the Evan Esar's quote that "statistics is the science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures" was true. They taught my class how to go to extremes with the science of figures. The point was to understand that everything has a counter point.
They were trying to teach us to question everything we calculated. In the end I think some of us got the correct lesson while others got the idea they were free to run amok.
Take, for example, the recent polls on the popularity of congress and those brave individuals that are considering running for president in 2016. In those polls you find that the popularity of congress is now lower than it has been for several generations.
Recently, Christopher Ingraham put together this data for the Washington Post and he concluded that congress has a popularity rating of negative 65 percent. That means they are less popular than Brussel Sprouts.
Of course, no one dislikes their own local representatives in Washington D.C. No, the problem is never our guy; it's the other guy's rep. Our men at the capitol are doing the right thing.
The problem is everyone thinks that, so, apparently, the polls just have it wrong. Congress is actually very popular. It's the statisticians have run amok just as predicted.
Ingraham actually figured out something that is far more interesting than our love of congress. No one really likes anyone that seems to be running for president. At least that's the case when compared to fictional Star Wars characters.
We all really like the idea of Hans Solo, that dashing, slightly rebellious, space pirate leading us into the end of the decade. Solo, it turns out, has a popularity rating of positive 90 percent and is tied with Luke Skywalker. Maybe they should run as president and vice president.
No less than five Star Wars fictitious characters were more popular than the first real person running for president. Those real people in the polls are Hilary Clinton, followed by Mike Huckabee.
Before you read too much into the rating of the real people consider this - Darth Vader, that less than noble father who killed people with his very thoughts, out ranked Clinton, Huckabee, Rand Paul and every other real person even remotely considering a run for the White House.
Put another way, the majority of Americans would rather have two white knights from outer space - or even a black knight from space - over any real people in national politics. This either means we have all completely lost it or we are all really fed up with the whole Washington D.C. scene.
Just like the fictitious world of Hollywood, statistical worlds could not allow a party ticket of Solo and Skywalker. The polls alone could not move a Vader cloaked prop into the White House.
Still, I got to thinking that we have the computing and algorithm capability to create virtual characters of these endearing Star Wars characters, so why couldn't we just code up a virtual president? Create a funny, loveable side kick of a vice president and program both of them to always say and do the absolute right things.
Produce virtual politicians capable of putting our country and all of our citizens first. Maybe they could code up a Yoda for Secretary of State. After all, Yoda finished much higher in the popularity polls when compared to President Obama, Chris Christie and Harry Reid.
Maybe what we really need is virtual politicians that can be upgraded every couple of months to take care of minor bugs that surfaced, improve their smile or fix how to answer those trick questions from the press. It would be a sort of Westworld meets Avatar mixed with the Stepford Wives and Star Wars. This might be the ticket all Americans could support.
Until they are created, I will just chalk the whole thing up to folks running amok with statistics. I know it is possible to play with the numbers and create any kind of answer you might want - even the correct one.