September 14, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Scientific Data Does Not Interpret Itself

Here’s a funny story about why data must always be interpreted by humans, who are often fallible.

Note: From September 7 to 23, new articles on CEH will be sparse or non-existent while the Editor is on travel and speaking. Thanks for your patience.

To hold your attention during this hiatus and provide entertainment, here is a funny story with a moral. It was taken from our soon-to-be refurbished CEH Humor page.

Frogs Without Legs

A Chinese scientist placed a frog on his lab table one day to perform an experiment. First, he carefully measured its height, length, and weight.  He trained it to respond to the word “Jump!” with an immediate leap.  Carefully plotting a number of trials, he determined that the average leap in response to the stimulus was 14 centimeters.  The scientist proceeded to amputate one of the frog’s legs.  On cue, with the shout “Jump!” the frog jumped 11 centimeters.  The scientist carefully recorded the data in his lab book.  Next he amputated another leg, shouted “Jump!” and the frog jumped 6 centimeters.

Upon amputating the next leg, and giving the command to jump, the frog jumped only 1 centimeter.  All these data points were dutifully recorded and plotted.  Finally, the scientist amputated the fourth leg and shouted “Jump!” but nothing happened.  He shouted again.  He raised the decibel level and shouted “Jump!” again; still no response.  Subsequent shouts at higher decibel levels failed to stimulate the frog to jump.  The scientist concluded his experiment, therefore, entered his final data points, and wrote up his results.

His conclusion?  “Frogs without legs are deaf.”

 

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