Dear Dad…Are you Discrepant?


Today, October 8th, 2011, was my first experience of snow in suburban Denver. 6.45am rolled around and a dreary sky accompanied the prospect of jumping out of bed to attend my 8am Statistics class. Out on the deck (yeah, I have a deck, pretty sweet) a smattering of snow could be seen on the BBQ.

And. It. Has. Begun.

(FYI, this is an “evil snow bbq”, not my real bbq)

I thought my roommate (who lived in Colorado during undergrad) was joking the other day when she said the blustery winds this week were going to “blow in” the cold weather, but it turned out to be true. Weather in Denver is very changeable, but generally good. This morning, with its snowy BBQ, temperatures in the 40s and a dreary, drizzly sky, was a bit of a shock. Still not as bad as the UK though.

Anyhow, to Statistics we went. As per usual our professor, Terry Dalton, managed to insert some entertainment into the course of the proceedings (Binomial distributions and the Empirical Rule wouldn’t generally be suspected of inspiring amusement but hey, we’re here to learn).

It goes like this: Out of a class of 37 people, how many would you expect have a Dad who is not actually their Dad? Might seem like an unlikely possibility, right? Or maybe not…

Well Prof. Dalton showed us an article in which it was suggested that as many as 10 % of people have a Dad who is not their real Dad but thinks he is (I.e. their mum slept around, got pregnant, and lied about it, in case you missed that).

So this means that if we were to apply that to our class, 3.7 people would have a “Discrepant Dad”. Having asked anyone in the class who was aware that their Dad was not their Dad (despite him thinking he is) to put their hand up, and getting no responses, Prof. Dalton set us an unusual homework task.

“OK,” she said, “I suggest then, for your homework, that each of you go home, take out a picture of dear old dad, and take a good hard look to see whether dear old dad may not really be who you think he is…”

A joke, of course, and a pretty good way of helping us to remember applications of the Binomial distribution. As for my Dad, he’s definitely my Dad, but he may still be a little discrepant (P.S. Hi Dad).

Now to my midterm paper. See you on the other side.

Posted on October 8, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Why didn’t you tell me you were doing a blog? As for the discrepant dad thing, this plays a big role in economic development as in countries where many men are unsure as to their children’s true parentage (Haiti is an example, and the Bahamas to a lesser but significant extent) they are less willing to invest much effort in contributing to the child’s upbringing. As they say ‘mama’s baby, papa’s maybe’. But I don’t think you and I have anything to worry about in this regard.
    P.S can’t believe you’re already getting snow in mid-October.

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