Type I and Type II errors

Someone asked me a few weeks back if I’m a numbers person. I’m not, but I do like numbers and statistics. Couldn’t look at them all day, but my favourite MBA classes? Strategy, Marketing, Statistics, and Macroeconomics.  
Type I and Type II errors are very specific things in statistics but as with so many other things when they enter the common vernacular we go and broaden them almost to the point of unrecognizability.
A Type I error in statistics is where the null hypothesis is true, but we reject it. False positives are errors of this sort. Put more simply, when we believe something that isn’t true: here be dragons. A Type II error is where the null hypothesis is false but is incorrectly believed to be true. Like the sun revolving around the earth.
How and why we make mistakes is interesting to me. I guess when we see what we want to see is a Type I error, and when we don’t see what we don’t want to see is a Type II error. Ignorance is bliss, right? Unconscious incompetence? That would also be Type II.
I suppose if you broaden even further, over-optimism or hearing the same old story again and again and continuing to believe it (fool me twice, shame on me type mistakes) are all Type II. These seem the more dangerous mistakes to me. If you listen to the people around you and don’t dismiss information out of hand because it doesn’t fit with your existing world view, you’ll avoid most Type I errors.  
Type IIs are the ones where we really hurt ourselves, because we allow ourselves to fool ourselves. He didn’t really mean to hurt me, he loves me. If I just stay here long enough, they’ll give me the raise I deserve. I can never win the Olympics; I’m not good enough.
Thursday was a public holiday, National Women’s Day. In a strange example of procrastination getting you everywhere, I got myself a free ticket to a breakfast and lecture at Solms-Delta wine farm, by one of the owners of the farm who happens to be a famous professor of psychology. He gave what turned out to be a 90-minute lecture on emotions of the brain. I had no idea but they are now able to measure the results of certain stimuli on the brain and so what he described to us was all the more interesting because it is based not in theory but in fact.
So there are eight recognised emotions at the moment (apparently the eighth is a bit controversial but in my uninformed opinion it shouldn’t be): Wanting, liking, fear, rage, attachment, care, play, and dominance. Things like surprise and disgust are not emotions per se but are sensory reflexes.
I’d heard some of this before from books that I’d read but one thing he said really stuck with me – there are some things we are just wired to fear: snakes, spiders, lions, sabre-toothed tigers. Other things we must learn to fear, and that happens from a SINGLE bad experience. Fear is an imprinting system. Touch a hot stove … don’t touch a hot stove again. Ask a girl out and she laughs in your face …. Maybe you only go for ‘safe yesses’ after that. Lose control of a car in a snowstorm … respect that snow for ever after!
For myself I can think of a couple fear imprintings, because the event in question was so traumatic. Some are positive from a standpoint of learning a lesson; some are less so. If you’re afraid of certain things you can fight through that fear, and sometimes our other emotions force us to do so.
But have you ever been in a situation where you had to react quickly; instinctually? How did you move, what did you do, and were you happy with that? My tendency, for better or worse, is if you ask me a direct question I’ll answer it. Where I get into trouble is where you put me on the spot, where if I don’t have a ready answer I delay. But I guess that’s ok. I don’t like having a fuss made over me, unless I think I deserve it. Even then … I’m happy to win the event but I HATE the podium after. In any event, my mother always told me I thought quickly on my feet, and I think I do: the one time I can think of that I’ve been physically threatened I didn’t freeze, I didn’t pause, I just reacted, and reacted perfectly. But that was once. What I do fear? Failure in the face of the unknown.
I won’t lie and said I did much the back half of the week. But I did manage some admin like extracting my Wild Card from the post office and started an oxtail stew. It’s still technically winter, and I loooove oxtail stew. Like good chilli though it takes days to make.
Other than that, just kind of caught up on my social life: dinner with Amy, Batman with John, lunch with Julius and hearing about his new business idea, and dinner with Hes & Ryan. Batman was awesome, by the way. I enjoyed it more than I recall enjoying the first two movies although I did laugh halfway through when he was not getting full range of motion on his pushups. It did cause me not to get sufficient sleep Thursday night, which I felt in my Friday workouts. The morning I felt weak even if I [apparently] didn’t look it. I must say, I make fun of it all the damn time and the equipment sucks but I actually love my globo gym. I left my jump stretch band there by accident and no fewer than three personal trainers made sure to let me know where they’d put it for me. And it’s great to be in a gym setting that’s not CrossFit, from time to time, and train with people who aren’t CrossFitters. I mean … where else can I accidentally insult the kung fu prodigy? Certainly not in his house.
Friday was definitely not a show off day as I failed a relatively heavy back squat (got to the bottom and when I started to strain on the way back up ditched rather than strain my back). Then my de-conditioning showed in the metcon where I just couldn’t maintain pace after the first 5 minutes or so. I still beat Norman though. Even though I know the conditioning comes back quickly, it’s hard to feel this out of shape. But I used it as good mental training to push hard and keep good form even while tired, so from that standpoint it was certainly fun!
Hopefully it was the sitting on the couch rather than the back squat that caused me to wake up Saturday feeing some strain in the back … shame, as I was really looking forward to snatching at open gym. Oh well. Discretion is the better part of valour. And I felt like a real dumb-ass when I then nearly burned my hand really badly right where you use the hook grip by grabbing the baking dish with my bare hand. Luckily I remembered to use hot water rather than ice and the burn is …. What burn?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about work-life balance and the weight of responsibility. Mental and emotional strain will take its toll on you physically. We watched The Devil Wears Prada which I thought would be a fun escape from reality but instead just made me re-think priorities. There are a couple of times in the movie where our heroine has to choose between her career and hurting someone else’s feelings. I was actually laughing at the movie a bit because honestly … I didn’t think the moral dilemmas were that rough. I would always choose the career.
  • “Well that’s the thing. Skyrove really is.” – Helen
  • “You can’t be afraid of a challenge.” – Helen
  • “You’re an angel?” “No, I’m a friend.” – guy downstairs & Ellie
  • “When you’re in your authentic self, these things happen to you.” – Amy
  • “How you feel about something is your business.” – Mark
  • “Labradors know the meaning of life. And they love it. Us? We think a lot.” – Mark
  • “You’re just a couple of years ahead of what I thought would be the schedule.” – Steve
  • “You can’t have any chinks in your armour.” – Ellie
  • “I’m sure you didn’t!” – Kim
  • “Everyone wants to be them.” – Bryony
  • “We were just gossiping about you.” – Doug
  • “He does have an interesting sense of humour.” – Ryan
  • “I think you did so well with this opportunity because you were not attached to the outcome.” – Kerry 
  • “Always pay attention to energy connections like that.” – Kerry 


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