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"Not without my formula sheets, sir."
August 17, 2007 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Even experts don't know what (3 and 3/16ths) times 20 is. But it has something to do with square roots and kinetic energy. [single link to excellent youtube deposition]
posted by orthogonality (83 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
So painful.
posted by Bugbread at 5:41 PM on August 17, 2007


And now I know about a whole new genre of stuff on YouTube: depositions! There are tons of em!
posted by Bugbread at 5:44 PM on August 17, 2007


From the youtube comments "Another matchbook gynecologist"
posted by Sailormom at 5:44 PM on August 17, 2007


There are some great depositions out there, I'm going digging for a post some day.
posted by Falconetti at 5:46 PM on August 17, 2007


[I'm not going to comment without my formula sheets.]
posted by brain_drain at 5:46 PM on August 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's not 60 and 60 16ths?
posted by delmoi at 5:46 PM on August 17, 2007


I have a friend who went to artillery school in the Army. He said it was ridiculously boring because they were never taught how to do the calculations, which would have involved simple trig, and were instead provided with books full of tables for any inputs they might use.

But this is something else.
posted by grouse at 5:47 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


60/16ths

Heh.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on August 17, 2007


I love the flabbergasted silence of the attorney.
posted by desjardins at 5:49 PM on August 17, 2007


Um, is he going to do this without his formula sheets or not?
posted by Deathalicious at 5:53 PM on August 17, 2007


Haha. I love how the guy uses the word "utilize" to make himself sound smarter.
posted by delmoi at 5:54 PM on August 17, 2007


I also love the juxtaposition of "expert" and "idiot" in the tags.
posted by desjardins at 5:55 PM on August 17, 2007


Maths is hard.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:55 PM on August 17, 2007


Imagine trying to be the defense attorney in this case.
posted by Mach3avelli at 5:56 PM on August 17, 2007


But seriously, I have a feeling that the insurance companies don't hire people because they're good at math. They hire them because they're good at punching things into formula sheets and standing firm at trials. If I knew I was being an idiot at a deposition, I would have broken down much earlier. If someone asked me, for example, to derive Maxwell's Equations, I would break down, admit I couldn't do it, and say, "Yes! It was me! I did it, with my bare hands!"

This guy is very good at looking good in a suit and avoiding making any overt incriminating statement. It's pretty clear that if the formula really was x * 20 and he plugged 3 3/16 in there and got 68, then his formula sheets are not as accurate as he believes. But he's probably been trained to use these sheets religiously. And it's also very clear that he doesn't think of this in terms of math. For him, there are inputs and there are outputs and it is not his responsibilty to know what happens in between.

Heck, I use TCP/IP all the time. Still don't know how it works. And yes, I would probably qualify as an "IT expert" if I was in a deposition.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:59 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder if this guy is using the same math as Karl Rove?
posted by Dreamghost at 5:59 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Last post, I promise: does this count as a math owie?
posted by Deathalicious at 6:00 PM on August 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


Heck, I use TCP/IP all the time. Still don't know how it works.

True, but knowing how TCP/IP works is not something covered in most middle school math classes.
posted by grouse at 6:02 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait, the drawing (if I heard correctly) is 1" = 20' scale. The expert witness probably realized 3" 3/16 in scale is not 68 feet:

(dmd, check me on this:)

If 1" = 20', then 1" = 240".

3.1875" x 240" = 762"

762 ÷ 12 = 63.75'

Assuming the scale on the drawing is correct.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:13 PM on August 17, 2007


Okay you guys are making me feel like a dumb jock. Stop it or I'll hang your underwear off the flagpole. With you in 'em!
posted by ZachsMind at 6:14 PM on August 17, 2007


They're asking the guy in the $3300 suit? C'mon!
posted by cortex at 6:20 PM on August 17, 2007 [17 favorites]


Well, if the whole accident reconstruction expert thing doesn't work out for him, he can always get a J-O-B with Verizon customer service.
posted by edverb at 6:24 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


fandango_matt you really don't need to multiply by 12 and then divide by 12, it's just 3.1875 inches x 20 feet per inch = 63.75 feet

luckily i had my formula sheets
posted by rswst8 at 6:31 PM on August 17, 2007


Okay, I think I understand what's going on here. The expert witness first said the distance was 68 feet--but the distance is actually 63 feet 9 inches. The lawyer then asked the expert witness how 3.1875 on a 1/20 scale drawing could equal 68 feet, thus hoping to discredit the expert witness. When the expert witness realized he'd made a mistake, he avoids the lawyer's trap by refusing to answer the question, and simply says he won't do the calculations without his tables.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:33 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


posted by rswst8 fandango_matt you really don't need to multiply by 12 and then divide by 12, it's just 3.1875 inches x 20 feet per inch = 63.75 feet

I'm not going to comment on that without my formula sheets.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:35 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


3 3/16 = 51/16

51/16 * 20/1 = 51/8 * 10/1 = 51/4 * 5/1 = 255/4 = 63 3/4
posted by The Confessor at 6:40 PM on August 17, 2007


After the first minute, I thought: it's a huge assumption that the jury is going to see this guy as an incompetent expert. This issue of "3 and 3/16ths inches does or does not equal aproximately 68 feet at the scale of one inch to 20 ft" points me directly to an easy piece of math, but only easy because I felt compelled to do a lot of studying throughout my elementary and high school years. I think the issue would be gobbledygook to me in third or fourth grade. And I do not think that I had the skill base to think of this as easy until 8th grade algebra. Do most jurors have good retention of or even a firm memory of their 8th grade math classes? You even couldn't do that on a calculator in one swipe without parentheses.

I'm with Deathalicious that this expert is hired to be a good witness, which he kind of isn't since he a) gives a bad end number on tape and b) sounds flustered while his questioner sounds confident.
posted by damehex at 6:42 PM on August 17, 2007


Multiplying two numbers is not 8th grade math.

Multiplying two numbers is not 8th grade math.

My god why am I even having to write that. I think I will just go take a nice long twenty year holiday.
posted by blacklite at 6:46 PM on August 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


You guys are all wrong... you're forgetting the square root of kinetic energy term... let's see, carry the two... Planck's constant... multiply by the permittivity of free space times the dielectric constant of silicon... the guy's right, exactly 68 feet.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:47 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


See, this is why we need to go metric.
posted by JackFlash at 6:48 PM on August 17, 2007


fandango_matt, I'm notoriously bad at math. I'm the dumbass who leaves tips in 5 dollar increments, rather that try and figure out a simple percentage. When cashiers ask if I have 2 pennies, so they can give me my change in even dollar amounts, I get confused and angry, then spend the next 20 minutes poring over my reciept, to figure out where they ripped me off.

So imagine my surprise and confusion to find that i also arrived at 63.75' but without involving the numbers 240, 762, or 12.

Obviously I am an idiot, but maybe I have a bright future in accident reconstruction consulting?
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:49 PM on August 17, 2007


(And, yeah: 3 and 3/16 * 20 = 60 and 60/16; 60/16 = 3 and 12/16; 60 + 3 + 12/16 = 63 3/4. Embarrassing.)
posted by cortex at 6:50 PM on August 17, 2007


This is a great argument for metric, if he'd been asked to multiply 8.1 centimeters by 20 that would be a lot easier, 162 centimeters, which you could do it in your head, and that is clearly less than 19.2 meters.
posted by bobo123 at 6:54 PM on August 17, 2007


I just did 3.1875 • 20. But I wanted to be certain, since I don't have my formula sheets.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:56 PM on August 17, 2007


3 3/16 * 20 = (51/16) / (16/230) * sqrt(-e^(-i*pi)) + lim(n->inf)[1/(n^2 + 6378e3)] = 63.749999999999999999...
posted by Krrrlson at 6:58 PM on August 17, 2007


I'll make you a deal, billyfleetwood. I'll help you figure out your tips if you will help me order a cup of coffee in a Starbucks so I don't feel like an idiot when they start throwing stuff at me like vente and skinny and foam and double-shot
posted by JackFlash at 7:05 PM on August 17, 2007


grouse it sounds like a good idea that they teach systems that minimize error at artillery school.

I can imagine the slow dawning dread upon realising you have forgotten to carry the one - after you have sent a consignment of high explosives sailing over the country side.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:05 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


When I switched from a computer science to an accounting job, I had to retrain myself not to do math in my head anymore. Precision is a hell of a lot more important than speed in most occupations where one uses math.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:15 PM on August 17, 2007


The kicker happens to be that the last five minutes of the clip don't involve scales, drawings, or anything like that. They involve only a man who claims he simply can't even divide the number three by the number sixteen on a calculator without formula sheets.
posted by koeselitz at 7:20 PM on August 17, 2007


Krrrison, you forgot about the kinetic energy.
posted by teem at 7:24 PM on August 17, 2007


The Arrested Development quote made my day, cortex. Thanks.
posted by Gilbert at 7:40 PM on August 17, 2007


it sounds like a good idea that they teach systems that minimize error at artillery school.

You are right. My friend is just an inquisitive geek at heart. He would have followed procedure in the field, he just wanted to know how things worked. He wouldn't have wanted to get in a situation like our friend in the deposition.
posted by grouse at 7:46 PM on August 17, 2007


I'll make you a deal, billyfleetwood. I'll help you figure out your tips if you will help me order a cup of coffee in a Starbucks so I don't feel like an idiot when they start throwing stuff at me like vente and skinny and foam and double-shot

Mefi's own Stanley Fish!
posted by Falconetti at 7:51 PM on August 17, 2007


Mefi's own Stanley Fish!

Slate wrote three pages about that silly Op-Ed? Wow.
posted by grouse at 7:58 PM on August 17, 2007


HOW TO ORDER A CUP OF COFFEE IN STARBUCKS.

1. Find the exit.

2. Exit.

3. Enter nearby Dunkin Donuts.

4. Tell your duncanista "One cup of coffee, please"

5. Modify the above with some of 'milk' 'cream' 'sugar' 'to go'.

6. Invest the three bucks you saved in Microsoft stock in 1985.

7. Retire on the proceeds.
posted by hexatron at 8:19 PM on August 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


I’m not goin’ to do it without my ‘formula sheets.’

I’m not goin’ go anyway near what ask without my ‘Bible sheets.’
posted by ericb at 8:49 PM on August 17, 2007


Eh, I've talked to lawyers about some tax issues and gotten answers such as "I dunno, I use google."

I don't think the problem is that the guy CAN'T do the math, it's that he doesn't do the math like this because it is a trivial part of the procedure.

If he just follows along with the lawyers instructions instead of the formula he uses he could end up with any answer at the end.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:58 PM on August 17, 2007


Now *that* is what I call testifying!
posted by bshort at 8:59 PM on August 17, 2007


I will not compute that sam I am. I will not compute that in the witness box, I will not compute that in the dock.
posted by MrLint at 9:24 PM on August 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


this guy would die at my old job. i had a bunch of precision machinist gages that measured in standard to the ten thousanth of an inch. i used them to measure parts cut on machines there were programmed in and adjusted in metric, down to the micron. the engineering drawings were in metric, but the written document of tolerances were written in standard.

to think i did this without a degree or a calculator, much less a "formula sheet".
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:51 PM on August 17, 2007


TrialByMedia: Right but you've learned to do those things by rote through experience. And probably the guy could do the math, but his failure was rhetoric. He wasn't thinking ahead and he'd boxed himself into a logical corner. He made a mistake, but he wasn't willing to own up to it.
posted by delmoi at 10:04 PM on August 17, 2007


Accident reconstructionist? Maybe the defense should've gone with Reform or Conservative instead.
posted by greatgefilte at 10:12 PM on August 17, 2007


Another amusing deposition.
posted by greatgefilte at 10:18 PM on August 17, 2007


The sad fact is most people never truly internalize the meaning of fractions, and what their relation is to decimals. I mean this guy is being handed a CALCULATOR and he can't do it. (He must have panicked when he noticed there wasn't a "3/16ths" button.)

A developmental psych prof of mine once described a score of 500 on the SAT math as approximately separating those who understand fractions and those who don't. She insisted that many normally functioning adults are cognitively incapable of understanding fractions, ever. Call it 8th grade math, 5th grade math, no matter. Some people will simply never get it. Which explains why they can't reconstruct the procedure from memory when handed a calculating tool. Expert witnesses and Verizon customer service numbnuts included.
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 10:32 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think Deathalicious nailed it; the refusal to do the math without the formula sheets is basically a way of avoiding a question meant to discredit him.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:40 PM on August 17, 2007


Another good one, but perhaps only for the reason that...is the guy wearing hose?
posted by jckll at 10:58 PM on August 17, 2007


the refusal to do the math without the formula sheets is basically a way of avoiding a question meant to discredit him.

The irony is that it discredits him immediately. I guess it's a good thing Metafilterarians and anyone with a degree that involves math (or even maths) is not on the jury.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:05 PM on August 17, 2007


I'll make you a deal, billyfleetwood. I'll help you figure out your tips if you will help me order a cup of coffee in a Starbucks so I don't feel like an idiot when they start throwing stuff at me like vente and skinny and foam and double-shot

I'll teach you how to order coffee, if you will tell me how you figured out that I grew up in Seattle.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:14 PM on August 17, 2007


posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson I mean this guy is being handed a CALCULATOR and he can't do it. (He must have panicked when he noticed there wasn't a "3/16ths" button.)

No, he can do it. He won't do it, because he first said the distance was 68 feet. As soon as he does the math, the distance becomes 63 feet 9 inches, thus discrediting him. So he avoids the lawyer's trap by refusing to answer the question.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:25 PM on August 17, 2007


Also, the fact he refuses to do the problem is how you know he knows how to do it. He knows that once he completes the problem, he'll be discredited.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:43 PM on August 17, 2007


The irony is that it discredits him immediately. I guess it's a good thing Metafilterarians and anyone with a degree that involves math (or even maths) is not on the jury.

Well, it makes him look like an idiot, but an idiot who knows his field. He has an impressive ability to refuse to answer the question that I'm sure comes in handy when testifying.
posted by bshort at 11:43 PM on August 17, 2007


mrs lincoln was right ... it might take as long as 40 years, but eventually your not paying attention in class WILL catch up to you

I guess it's a good thing Metafilterarians and anyone with a degree that involves math

anyone who passed 5th grade math and remembered it, you mean ... no degree needed

in my day, they not only taught this in 5th grade, but they taught it without decimals, on PAPER, because no one had ever SEEN a calculator ... and he's old enough to have been taught that way
posted by pyramid termite at 12:36 AM on August 18, 2007


I like the cocky little head wobble he gives as he says "Good morning" at 00:05.
posted by wsg at 1:01 AM on August 18, 2007


LOLdepositions.

And after consulting my formula sheets, I think fandango matt's assessment is right: the dude was caught in an error and refused to own up.
posted by Tacodog at 2:40 AM on August 18, 2007


Well, I happen to believe that 20 x 3 3/16 equals 68, and nothing your fancy "science" says is going to make me believe otherwise. Science doesn't have all the answers, you know.
posted by kcds at 4:02 AM on August 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


The irony is that it discredits him immediately.

It's one thing to look like an idiot, and another thing to look wrong. He may be discredited, but his testimony alone won't lead to the case being dismissed/dropped/won/whatever the lawyer questioning wants. If he had said, "I was wrong, it looks like the evidence shows that your client is indeed right" then he will never ever again get another job with the insurance companies. The insurance companies don't care if he's right or wrong, They only care that he prevent their side from losing a case.

And for the record, I don't think he's faking it. I think he's genuinely bad at math and doesn't consider it to be part of his job. He's the president, so maybe he's hired someone else to make these formula sheets for him. Maybe it's a turnkey business that he purchased aas a franchise that includes the formula sheets in a software program. In any case, he doesn't need to be good at math any more than a web content editor (these days) necessarily has to be good at web programming ("Not without my WYSIWYG editor, sir". I mean, it would frikken help him not look like an idiot, but as I said before it's his calm demeanor before a lawyer that makes him suitable for the job.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:07 AM on August 18, 2007


Maybe he was using a Pentium-75.
posted by MtDewd at 4:30 AM on August 18, 2007


Wait a minute, he said "68 feet approximately, sir". So if he used the calculator and came up with the correct answer, he would not have been discredited - that would simply be a more precise answer.

Either he did a very rapid guesstimate to come up with the 68 feet or...the difference of about five feet could have changed the outcome of the accident, accounting for his subsequent, absurd stonewalling. Funny either way.
posted by AppleSeed at 6:43 AM on August 18, 2007


20 * 3 3/16

Where's your expert now?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:00 AM on August 18, 2007


I made it about 32 seconds. Lawyers get paid to tolerate that level of boredom for a reason.
posted by nanojath at 8:19 AM on August 18, 2007


Hehe, he almost said 69
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:44 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


is the guy wearing hose?

Yes. Notice that, after the hose-wearing dude accidentally injures the plus-sized woman and she falls to the floor screaming in pain, he removes the hose so he can attend to her injury. (That's before he attacks the cameraman.)
posted by jayder at 9:21 AM on August 18, 2007


So do only southern states videotape depositions?

What, no Boston Legal-esque depositions on the 'Tube?
posted by linux at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2007


AppleSeed: the difference of about five feet could have changed the outcome of the accident

They're working in inches. 68-63.75 = 4.25 inches (done in my head!) I guess 4.25 inches could change the outcome of an accident, but it's certainly less likely than a difference of 4.25 feet.
posted by desjardins at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2007


I wonder how much per hour this "Expert" is charging those folks? I wonder if they pay their bill? hee, hee, my eighth grade son knew how to do this one, and he doesn't even have his formula charts.
posted by caddis at 2:47 PM on August 18, 2007


desjardins: they are working in inches only on the scaled drawing, but at 1"=20' that gets converted to an error of 4 feet 9 inches. 1:20 scale is different than 1"=20'
posted by yeti at 3:25 PM on August 18, 2007


No, he can do it. He won't do it, because he first said the distance was 68 feet. As soon as he does the math, the distance becomes 63 feet 9 inches, thus discrediting him. So he avoids the lawyer's trap by refusing to answer the question.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:25 AM on August 18 [+][!]


Except he fails to avoid the trap as he proceeds to completely discredit himself. A smart lawyer yanks his ass and gets a new expert right away. A dumb one might persist, but no one will believe his testimony (if he can even get qualified as an expert) after this debacle. Even more, he admits he can not even convert 3/16 into a decimal without his formula sheets. That statement alone is a sufficient trap and disqualifies him as an expert in this case. You could have some more fun and have him come back with his formula sheets and show how they help him convert 3/16 into a decimal, like that would even be on a formula sheet for energy, kinetics and other accident related formulas.
posted by caddis at 3:58 PM on August 18, 2007


I've seen that look before.

Now I understand why Bush sat for seven minutes listening to that Pet Goat story.

No Presidential Formula Charts handy.
posted by Twang at 8:06 PM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't blame him. I wouldn't respond to this without my Scooby Doo sheets. And pillowcase.
posted by annasbrew at 7:14 PM on August 19, 2007


It's nice that all you people think that everybody who isn't a math genius like you is a retard.

His job is to plug data into formulas. No basic math is required. If he couldn't add 2+2 and could still tell me what speed the car was going when it bounced off the wall I would listen.

His courage in standing up to the bully who wants to take a deposition and turn it into a math bee impresses me and makes him more sympathetic to me.
posted by Megafly at 3:41 PM on August 20, 2007


Math genius? This is middle school basic stuff. He purports to be an "expert" but is instead a "moron." Anybody who could not perform the math being requested who actually has a high school degree was failed by their high school, and middle school. This guy is a fraud, charging big bucks as an expert and he doesn't know what he is talking about. An expert had better be able to do more than plug numbers into formulas, they have to actually understand the formulas. Anyway this genius couldn't even convert a fraction into a decimal. Pathetic.
posted by caddis at 4:02 PM on August 20, 2007


Megafly, you need to be a math genius to figure out what 3/16 is when you have a calculator? Wow.

His job is to plug data into formulas.

No, his job is to be an expert witness. His job is not to be a "ordinary guy" who might have failed seventh grade math. His job is to be "qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education."

Either his formula sheets give an answer that is obviously wrong, or he has used them incorrectly. The fact that he claims to be unable even to recognize this simple error which should be obvious to any "expert" makes his testimony inadmissable.

I know you probably aren't a "law genius" either, Megafly, which is why it's good this would be decided by a judge instead. But it probably doesn't need to, since there's no way the defense attorneys are letting this guy on the stand now.
posted by grouse at 4:21 PM on August 20, 2007


Megafly writes "His job is to plug data into formulas. No basic math is required."

Right. And I'm sure he does admirably at his job. But if he can't do the 4th grade math, he's certainly not an expert in his field. Which is what he's being called as. An expert witness, not just a competent-at-his-job witness. It's the reason that accountants get called in to be expert witnesses in issues regarding finances, and not the guy who works the register at McDonalds, even though the guy who works the register at McDonalds may be completely competent at his job of receiving payments and disbursing change.
posted by Bugbread at 7:10 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


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