We all of us have a favorite Monty Python skit. (All of us of a certain age, that is.) Maybe it’s a classic like Dead Parrot or Argument Clinic. Could be the Silly Walks or the Spanish Inquisition. Maybe it’s more obscure. Upper Class Twit of the Year, anyone? Or maybe you’re just a sucker for the exploding sheep.
But anyone with a tendency to theorize has to go with Anne Elk’s Theory of Brontosauruses. “That is my theory. It is mine. It belongs to me.” So what if the theory is that the brontosaurus is thin on one end, much thicker in the middle, and thin again on the other end? She came up with it all by herself.
I know the feeling.
This time, the theory in question concerns oysters and housekeeping, and I posted a survey a couple posts back to test that theory. I didn’t say exactly what the theory was, but astute commenter Joan took a wild-ass guess and postulated: “A love of wild, slippery, sloppery shellfish is surely incompatible with a well-organised, alphabetically arranged kitchen cupboard.”
Surely! Don’t think I can say it any better. I’d have spelled “organized” with a z, but that’s about the only change I would have made.
Now that the results are in, though, I’m going to have to make significant changes. Although there’s not a lot of variation in the reported housekeeping among the different levels of oyster affinity, those of you who find them vile are a little bit sloppier than those of you who find them delicious.
I didn’t do any sophisticated analysis. I merely averaged the housekeeping score for each of the five oyster-affinity levels. Here’s the chart of the 178 responses (with the low and high numbers lopped off the y-axis – a data no-no – so you can actually see the differences):
When the numbers didn’t pan out, I thought about taking refuge behind some sophisticated analysis. I considered calling in my friend Randy Cohen, who taught me all about data analysis back when we worked together at Ziff-Davis. (Now he’s got his own market research company, Advertiser Perceptions, and I’m still laboring in obscurity, so perhaps I should have paid closer attention.) When it came right down to it, though, I couldn’t quite picture myself asking him to expend time and skill just to be able to tell me that the difference among the answers wasn’t statistically significant.
Instead, I’ll just reason it out. The differences can’t be statistically significant because, if they were, I would be forced to conclude that oyster lovers keep cleaner houses than oyster haters, which would mean I was … are you ready for this? … wrong. And we know that can’t be right. Because it’s clear to anyone who knows anything that people who love slippery, sloppery shellfish don’t keep their houses as clean as people who recoil at the very idea.
This theory, which is mine, is mine.