Hypothesis Testing

Having just gotten on an add pictures jag (thanks Kurt), I decided to test if, besides being aesthetic, they’d encourage people to read something they might not otherwise. In the best tradition of science, I thought I’d run a quick experiment. My hypothesis, H1, was that people would be entranced by the pretty pictures, and click on the link while in a trance state. My null hypothesis, H0, was that it wouldn’t make a difference, since nobody reads this blog anyway, except a few of my friends (Hi Sandy), and HOTD fans.

I decided to use my AAVSO post (scroll down two, past Three Wolves). I originally put it up on March 24th, and over the course of the next week it got exactly two views. Should be really easy to measure growth from that baseline. So I found the picture that went with the blog post that inspired me, and updated the article to include it on the main page, right above the “Read the rest of this entry” link. Then I sat back to let the data roll in.

Result one week later: two more views. No change.

Now, no change is the assumed state of the world. Most things we do don’t really change the world, not even within our own restricted circle. If we are to accept a hypothesis as coming from a good model, we have to demonstrate that our action made a difference. In this case, it didn’t, at least, not within the parameters of our experiment. I am reminded of two aphorisms from my youth:

1. Intelligence is our last defense against wishful thinking. Replace Intelligence with Statistics and you have something applicable to the wider world. In passing, I would note that Intelligence is capitalized for more reasons than just starting a sentence. I am talking about the formal discipline.

2. How badly you want something to be true has absolutely no impact on whether it is true or not. You build your model, you draw your hypothesis, you run your test. The universe tells you if you got it right.

Google and I, we don’t either of us have a source for the above quotes.



10 Responses to “Hypothesis Testing”

  1. Kurt Says:

    It’s a shame more people don’t know about FOW–you write one of the more interesting personal blogs. I think the way to be found is to publish other pieces in more public venues with links back to your blog. You write about and are knowledgeable about one or two subjects (not counting Wii Fit, Anime, and flight combat sims)–but finding those venues, submitting, and keeping up on that takes a fair amount of time. Self promotion, if that’s the only goal, is a tedious pain in the butt.

    • FoundOnWeb Says:

      Your words are very kind. I’ve thought about aiming for a wider world, but there’s my flight/fight response to the thought of more people seeing this. If I actually attracted readership, I’d have responsibility pains

  2. Kurt Says:

    Also, if you’d simply added breasts to the picture of the graph, ala some xkcd joke, you may have had to turn people away at the door. That’s my hypothesis, at least.

  3. Kurt Says:

    In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m catching up on your stuff. I haven’t read nary a blog in awhile. I came here to ask or find answers to a Wii question (see other comment in today’s post) and felt compelled (mostly in the interest of seeing more pictures) to continue reading.

  4. Kurt Says:

    I also shared your variable stars/citizen scientist post on Facebook, where I know at least two people will appreciate it. Because it’s only two people, you don’t have to run really other further than the shadow of a streetlamp. (I joke, but I get the fight/flight response reference.)

  5. Kurt Says:

    Or, he says, in sleepless but caffeine-determined self-correction, I’d read nary a blog.

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