Paganini and the Bell Curve

The Devil’s Violinist — Official Trailer (English)

The Devil’s Violinist, a movie made in 2013, focuses upon the violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini. As far as “views”, the Paganini movie is outscored already by the new “Furious 7” movie. So which is the better film? According to the number of “views”, “Furious 7” wins.

The Devil’s Violinist however was not subtly helped by tire ads, as was the “Furious 7” movie. “Get up to $70 Back and Go to the Movies with Furious 7 and General Tire!” advertises General Tire. General Tire has the same tires used in Furious 7! Just “purchase four (4) select General Tires from now through May 1, 2015” and in return get “a $70 American Express reward card,” the company urges. And with that money you could buy movie tickets and drive the family and your new tires to see Furious 7. [1]

I don’t know about the tires, but Furious 7 is definitely not recommended by me. It is the usual cool cars, bombs, guns, and hot chicks formula, designed to fit into the normal curve, also called the bell curve.

In 1835, a new creature, “the average man”, was born. That happened at the dawn of the age of statistics. A Belgian polymath named Lambert Quetelet took Abraham de Moivre’s discovery of the bell curve and applied it to sociology. Quetelet thereby located “the average man” and placed him at the midpoint of the bell curve. Quetelet applied the normal distribution to social data and is now known as a “pioneer of the statistically informed public policy decision making that is a feature of twentieth-century society.” [2]

By now they have got the “average man” (and “average woman”) statistically figured out. “What does ‘average man’ like?” wondered some movie producers. The statisticians returned with the latest random sample surveys and replied, “‘Average man’ likes cool cars, bombs, guns, and hot chicks.” And Voila! An entire franchise of “Furious” movies was born, with Furious 7 being the latest installment.

“Furious 7, the seventh installment in the Fast & Furious saga, is now the king of both the box office and the Billboard 200,” exults Rolling Stone magazine. [3]

But there is something called “standard deviation” in the “normal curve” samples. All normal frequency curves are characterized by their mean and standard deviation. An “upsigma” symbol for the Latex computer program is hopefully reproduced here: Ơ. Morris Kline uses this symbol in his book, Mathematics for the Nonmathematician (originally titled Mathematics for Liberal Arts). In the normal frequency bell curve, 68.2 percent of the data lie within Ơ on either side of the mean. Outside this range, we enter Standard Deviation Land. [4]

With 68.2 percent of the data within Ơ, that means 31.8 percent are on the outside. Still, some of these are not too far from “average man.” However 4.6 percent of these people dwell in 2Ơ and beyond! [4] Such persons are beyond the hope of being at all interested in Furious 7 and the like. But the producers figure, “Hey, we got ‘average man’ enticed, and that’s the important thing.” And so, Furious 7 gets lots of “views” and the money rolls in.

It is “The Curse of the Bell Curve” writes Gaurav Vohra, co-founder of Jigsaw academy, “a training institute that aims to meet the growing demand for talent in the field of analytics.” The bell curve “allows us to focus on the mediocre or the ordinary.” [5]

the devil’s violinist… The concert

Outside this bell curve, out in Standard Deviation Land, Christian Angermayer and Gabriela Bacher decided to produce The Devil’s Violinist. Hopefully embedded above is part of the concert scene from the movie, for which scene alone Ersjdamoo gives The Devil’s Violinist a full 5 stars. (But Ersjdamoo resides out in 3Ơ standard deviation so is not statistically relevant.) Contrasted to Furious 7, I had not even heard at all about Devil’s Violinist until perusing beyond Ơ standard deviation on Netflix. Maybe though I’d have heard something about Devil’s Violinist if the producers had somehow put at least some tires on the stage for the Paganini concert scene.

——- Sources ——-
[1] “Get up to $70 Back and Go to the Movies with Furious 7 and General Tire!”, April 2, 2015. http://generaltire.com/latest-news/news-article/get-up-to-70-back-and-go-to-the-movies-with-furious-7-and-general-tire
[2] The Language of Mathematics, by Keith Devlin. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2000.
[3] “On the Charts: ‘Furious 7’ Rides to Number One”, by Daniel Kreps. Rolling Stone (online), April 15, 2015.
[4] Mathematics for the Nonmathematician, by Morris Kline. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1985. (Originally published 1967.)
[5] “The Curse of the Bell Curve Part 1”, by Gaurav Vohra. Data Science Central, January 3, 2013. http://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/the-curse-of-the-bell-curve-part-1

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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