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The Chicago Comic Con, Precision & Accuracy
Entered on: August 10, 2009 4:13 PM by Jackzilla

Ok, so for those Jackassarians that don't know - Bells, Crockett, Swerb and myself met up with Bert at the Chicago Comic Con.

On exiting to the parking ramp with my fellow nerds, the meanings of precision and accuracy somehow spilled out of my brain. I declared confidently that these two terms had different meanings and asked if anyone could define them.  This idea was met with skepticism and everyone basically said they meant the same thing.  I was unable to express these concepts having just spent the afternoon with nerds, celebrity hotties and wrestlers.

In the car, it was discussed further, but once again I was the outsider with these crazy notions of precision and accuracy meaning different things.

Then today started with Bells telling me the dictionary basically states the two words mean the same thing.  Bullshit.  I know the dictionary merely reflects people's usage... blah blah blah...  But, I maintained, there is a difference!

Well, after researching online, I found this example that supports my position:

Precision and accuracy are not the same thing. Precision refers to the degree of specified detail which can be observed; while accuracy refers to the truthfulness, or correctness, of the specified data. Here's an example: The TV weather forecaster says that it will be between 40 and 60 degrees today. The actual reading turns out to be 53. Thus, the forecast was accurate, but not very precise. The forecaster provided a true statement but without enough detail for us to make plans. For tomorrow, the forecast is 52.47 degrees at 4 PM. It turns out to be 61 degrees. This forecast was very precise, but completely inaccurate.



NEWS 653 - 11 Comments
From: Ross Entered on: August 10, 2009 5:40 PM
Hey I did actually tend to agree with you but I didn't stick up for you too hard nor was I very articulate in general on the matter. Nice work, I think your example is a good one. And kudos to you for not blindly taking the dictionary's word for it!
From: Jackzilla Entered on: August 10, 2009 7:37 PM

Bert - That's funny.  In talking with Bells he said that everyone disagreed with me but I said that I thought you were a little quiet on the matter because you suspected I was right, but like me couldn't properly express the difference on the spot.

Anyone got some pics?!  Did you not take ANY at all, Bert?  Not even with Ray Park??

From: Ross Entered on: August 10, 2009 8:29 PM

No, I definitely said that they weren't the same thing, though I was hard-pressed to explain the difference.  Upon further reflection, I can use an example from my own work domain: we have something called "high precision rates", where, say, instead of the CAD to USD exchange rate being .917 (which is accurate), using the higher precision rates might put it at .91728924 which is more precise.  Both are accurate, but to differing levels of precision.  Basically, precision normally implies accuracy, but details the level, whereas accuracy alone does not.

That being said, in everyday conversation, I think it's relatively safe to say that accuracy and precision can normally be used interchangably.  You could as easily say that .917289 is more accurate than .917, and most people wouldn't argue, but technically it's more precise (or is it accurate?) to use the word precise in that context. :) Not to belabor the point, but if the precision of the reading is 3 decimal places, then .917 is perfectly accurate.  But if the precision is 8 decimal places, then so is .91728924.

So in a way, precision is a measure of how accurate you can be.

As for pics, I only got the ass shots, which I will post at some point.  Considering that we're having a baby in 36 hours, I'll have plenty of time to fiddle with the cameras in the hospital. 

From: Ross Entered on: August 10, 2009 8:35 PM

Just looked up precision on Wikipedia, that should have put an end to the debate right then and there:

The results of calculations or a measurement can be accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, neither, or both.

I don't know what dictionary Bells was reading but if it really said they're the same thing it's probably time to buy a better one.  Not that Wikipedia is the end-all-be-all on any topic but considering that the page goes on in equisite detail to draw the distinction between the two, it's likely it's probably getting the big picture right.

From: NickNick Entered on: August 11, 2009 8:36 AM

The way things are looking, I will probably have a booth in artist alley next year at Wizard Con.

As far as weighing in on your argument..... never mind.  I don't have anything intelligent or witty to add.

From: Jackzilla Entered on: August 11, 2009 10:23 AM

Bert - On the drive home, I loaded up the Wikipedia entry on Crockett's phone and started reading it.  Apparently, Swerb under his breathe said something about it must be true if it's on Wiki... arsehurls...

Bells maintains that you disagreed with me at the time.  I think you disagreed but not strongly... I don't recall any support from anyone.

Get them butt pics up here, Bert!


From: Ross Entered on: August 11, 2009 3:47 PM

I'm not going to lie, I waffled a bit and basically mumbled.  I think my first reaction was that they were the same, then thought about it for a second and I definitely ended up muttering that they weren't, though I can't fault you if you didn't hear it.  My support was weak at best.  In fact, by my recollection, Bells mistook my negative utterances as taking his side rather than yours, but again that's my fault and not necessarily his.  I honestly didn't feel like correcting him since, again, I didn't have a good argument to throw out at the time one way or another.

In any case, I think it's pretty clear that at this point I'm on the record as saying that I agree with you and as you all should know, I wouldn't just say that because I like agreeing with you. :)

And that's a pretty shitty thing for Swerb to say, honestly.  Most wikipedia pages, especially on technical topics, are maintained by hard-working, knowledgeable volunteers.  Sure there is always the possibility of error but to somehow insinuate that Wikipedia is an inferior source on a technical topic than 4 assholes riding home from a comic book convention is the height of absurdity.  And what's with this over-reliance that so many of you guys seem to have on argument from authority (Bells being its primary champion)?  If Bozo the Clown had a well-reasoned explanation on the topic, should his station in life diminish the value of what he is saying?  Likewise, if my dictionary has an outdated or counter-intuitive definition for some word, why should I take it as canon just because it's "The Dictionary"?

From: BigFatty Entered on: August 11, 2009 3:25 PM

Sounds like Bells was accurate in his definition, but not precise..

Get those pics up...  A few of use do not get to see nerds on patrol!

From: Ross Entered on: August 11, 2009 3:34 PM

Here they are.  I didn't have time to make thumbnails so it will take a while to download each:

1 2 3

From: BigFatty Entered on: August 12, 2009 12:48 AM

I'll take a number 10 with a side of fries please... to go!

From: Bunky Entered on: August 12, 2009 11:06 AM

Forget Chicago, you need to come out to Comic Con San Diego! You guys missed out on Megan Fox and Scarlett Johannsen! Of course, George Lopez Perez was probably a close second for Zilla!



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