Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chinese Mario Andrette

I love Type II errors. As a stat major in college, the difference between Type I errors (false positive) and Type II errors (false negative) was drilled into my head. I think I learn more from analyzing Type II errors than Type I. Additionally, I love making Type II errors because they can be summarized as, "Thought I was wrong, but it turns out I was right!"

Anyhow, at the end of my weekend in Xi'an, I met the Chinese Mario Andrette. Turns out he's working as a taxicab driver in Xi'an. We flagged him down at the South Gate of the old Xi'an city walls and wanted him to take us to the hotel to pick up our bags. We were originally going to switch cabs at that point but this guy was so awesome we asked him to wait for us which he was more than happy to do (airport is an hour away from town and a BIG fare for them). In the trip from the city walls to the hotel and then on to the airport, ONE car passed us the ENTIRE trip. What was most impressive about this feat is that the guy never accelerated nor braked hard. I don't think he ever got the car over about 65 miles per hour. He was just very skilled at sneaking the car into the smallest nook and cranny to get buy everybody. At one point, two lanes were merging at a freeway turning circle. He slowed down to yield to the other car. I thought something must be wrong and certainly it was. He looked ahead and noticed a traffic jam so he put the car into reverse and backed it up about 10 feet back into the turning circle and took a different turn!

So what does this have to do with Type II errors? Well, you know every time you drive and get into a hairy situation like trying to pass a big rig and think to youself, "No, I'm not going to make it. I better not do that." This taxi driver demonstrated to me that it turns out more often than not, you do make it!

What "Type" is a spelling error?

Or is it a Type I(ng) error?
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