Horoscoped: poetry from statisticians

I don’t check my RSS feed as much as I used to. You could either blame my job, for giving me more to do, or possibly Hulu and Netflix, for giving me more passive entertainment options. Personally, I blame either G.W. Bush or global warming.

Seriously, though, I came across a wonderful post on Information is Beautiful about horoscopes and word analysis (apparently the latest fad among statisticians — and you know those crazy fad-conscious statisticians).

You could just take a look at it yourself and draw your own conclusions from the data. Or, you could keep reading this post for another 60 seconds and learn that it reminded me of something Douglas Adams said in one of his later novels. I can never remember if it was The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul or Mostly Harmless or one of the other ones, so I haven’t been able to look it up. I’ll paraphrase it, though, like so:

You take something as inherently chaotic and unpredictable as human nature. You apply an arbitrary set of rules to it. Et voila, your rules work.

Most of the scientists I’ve met don’t like data that can’t be hammered down to at least two significant digits, which means that they read their horoscopes only furtively. I find all that crystal woo-woo stuff great fun and enjoy learning the arbitrary rules of divination systems with the same glee that I enjoy learning the arbitrary rules of grammar, social mores, and fashion.

What I found particularly stunning — poetic, even — was the meta-horoscope those crazy statisticians over at Information is Beautiful were able to create from their analysis. And I now present to you, the poem the statisticians wrote.*

Ready? Sure?
Whatever the situation or secret moment, enjoy everything a lot.
Feel able to absolutely care. Expect nothing else. Keep making love.
Family and friends matter. The world is life, fun, and energy.
Maybe hard. Or easy. Taking exactly enough is best.
Help and talk to others. Change your mind
and a better mood comes along…

From “Horoscoped: Do horoscopes really all just say the same thing? We scraped & analysed 22,000 to see.” at http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2011/horoscoped/

*I edited it slightly because I can’t stand center-justified poetry and feel really strongly about the serial comma.

3 Replies to “Horoscoped: poetry from statisticians”

  1. PS: Just remembered I already have a long-dormant wordpress.com account. Dusted it off, and now it’ll be easier to post & track comments.

    1. Actually, I think with Gravatar it’s pretty easy to track and post as well. WordPress knows who you are with the other account and I’ve told it to approve any other comments you make!

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