Swim, swim little fish, swim on...
August 19, 2008 4:15 PM   Subscribe

The Pisces Effect is a statistician's find that birth sign may predict likelihood of Olympics medal victories relating to Zodiacal attributes. Past statistical studies indicate Pisceans may be bad drivers...with perhaps some fluctuation for hemisphere. One columnist feels Washington, D.C.'s problems (and potential) may be attributable to being Pisces. Maybe Pisceans [flash; auto/unstoppable sound] have more luck as horses. Previously: [post] [comments]
posted by batmonkey (54 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What's that phrase? Correlation does not indicate causality?
posted by John of Michigan at 4:20 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


lul, wut?
posted by empath at 4:23 PM on August 19, 2008


Consider the scientific community shocked to its core.
posted by found missing at 4:23 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


check tags, loves ;]
posted by batmonkey at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2008


This should have been posted BEFORE I had that third glass of pinot... 'cuz, at this point, the post does NOT make sense to me... someone check all those links and give me a one sentence explanation!
posted by HuronBob at 4:30 PM on August 19, 2008


Sagittarius here, and I just loooove to drive. Eat it, Pisceans!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2008


HuronBob:
1. Astrology.
2. Batshitinsane.
3. Florida Washington, D.C.
4. Profit!!
posted by dash_slot- at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2008


There's a kind of meta-bellcurve involved in this kind of thing. If you examine enough possible correlations, random chance suggests that your data will eventually turn up a few.
posted by Class Goat at 4:44 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, this Piscean is a fucking awesome driver and couldn't win a Olympic medal at gunpoint. So throw that statistic into the pile and smoke it.
posted by zardoz at 4:46 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel two ways about this, but then, I'm a Gemini. On one hand, I place no stock whatsoever in the idea that birth date has anything to do with anything. On the other, the vast majority of the traits folks of my dualistic sign are supposed to embody describe me to a T.

Whatever comes of it, all I'll need to do is wait 5 minutes and then feel differently.
posted by SaintCynr at 4:47 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Welp, if science has been refuted I guess I don't have to go to work tomorrow. So score one for the statistical innumerates, is what I'm saying.
posted by shadow vector at 4:47 PM on August 19, 2008


1. Nostradamus predicted 9/11 -> Washington, D.C. was attacked in 9/11 -> Nostradamus attacked Washington, D.C.!!!
posted by Brocktoon at 4:48 PM on August 19, 2008


Well, this Piscean loves swimming and all things oceanic. So, clearly you can stop smoking that statistic and take it off the pile.
posted by oddman at 4:48 PM on August 19, 2008


Nostradamus attacked Washington, D.C.!!!

Holy shit, and we've been going after the wrong guy this whole time!

To the Bat Cave!
posted by baphomet at 4:53 PM on August 19, 2008


This should have been posted BEFORE I had that third glass of pinot... 'cuz, at this point, the post does NOT make sense to me... someone check all those links and give me a one sentence explanation!

Summary: have another glass, or two, or three!
posted by ericb at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2008


Yes, but they work for scale.
posted by hal9k at 5:06 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]



Summary: have another glass, or two, or three!

Malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man.
posted by tkchrist at 5:07 PM on August 19, 2008


SÉANCE!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:10 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the phrase is 'post hoc ergo propter hoc'.
posted by robox at 5:15 PM on August 19, 2008


I read that as The Pixies effect and thought I'd be in for some real science. Disappointed again.
posted by ersatz at 5:39 PM on August 19, 2008


Ach, my apologies for having a bit of fun with the post. I felt it would be obvious that anything involving the (purportedly) biggest dreamer of the Zodiac is likely to remain bereft of real science.

I'm also disappointed this wasn't about The Pixies effect, ersatz

...fwiw, I'm a more than passable driver but do excel in anything involving moving around in water. I got an almost perfect score on the quiz, went crazy from the music at that flash dress-up game, wish I'd known to bet on that horse, and found myself strangely pleased that D.C. is ridiculously fishy.

posted by batmonkey at 5:48 PM on August 19, 2008


Washington, D.C. is a Pisces?

No, no. The Fish saved Pittsburgh.
posted by jefflowrey at 6:00 PM on August 19, 2008


Like zardoz, I'm a Pisces who is an excellent driver and can barely swim. My cousin's wife on the other hand, has a silver and bronze medal in water polo (US team, 2000 and 2004). She's a Libra.
posted by weathergal at 6:00 PM on August 19, 2008


WTF? Every sign gets its own section except Capricorn and Aquarius which are lumped together. Well I'm an Aquarius and I withhold the water you swim in Pisces. How d'ya like that?
posted by binturong at 6:09 PM on August 19, 2008


Superstition causes bad luck.
posted by Floydd at 6:09 PM on August 19, 2008


CANCER
I did look for significances. For instance, I thought of a crab moving sideways, so I looked at medallists in the Gymnastics Side Horse Vault competition. And it’s true that Cancer athletes are good at it - but not spectacularly good. Aquarius scores higher.

Then I thought of the symbol for Cancer, which is a pair of claws. Could Cancer athletes be good in competitions involving two in a team?


I don't think BatShitInsane does this justice.
posted by nudar at 6:30 PM on August 19, 2008


I am just grateful that I am not superstitious *touches wood*
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:34 PM on August 19, 2008


I'm not sure that calling it science makes it science.
posted by ardgedee at 6:38 PM on August 19, 2008


It would not surprise me to find a slight statistical anomaly wrt birth month and, for instance, number of crashes. Keep in mind that they are not completely independent variables. A person who turns 16 in January is going to be driving in adverse conditions whereas one who turns 16 in June isn't. After N years of driving, they will have one extra winter of crashes under their (seat)belt. And any given measurement is more likely capture people from earlier in the year, etc and so forth, exercise for the reader.
posted by DU at 6:43 PM on August 19, 2008


Heh he said wood.

I am a Pisces, and, if I'm reading this right, I am therefore inherently superior to the rest of you.
posted by Mister_A at 7:09 PM on August 19, 2008


I'm a Virgo and every Piscean I know has driven me quietly (or sometimes quite loudly) insane. But then again, that's the diametrically opposed signs of the zodiac for you. (One of my Virgo friends actually pointed this thread out to me with the commentary "i'll GIVE them a list of problems that may be attributable to being a pisces.")

GET YER COLLECTIVE HEADS OUT OF THE CLOUDS, FISH PEOPLE. THIS IS REALITY. IT REQUIRES FURNITURE. MAKE A DECISION IN LESS THAN A YEAR, PLZ FOR THE LOVE OF G-D.

Virgos don't even bother trying to compete for the Olympics. We know the odds and we're staying out of it. Staying out of it and alphabetizing our socks by color.

On the other hand, contrary to any stereotypes or predictions for my own sign, I can not organize for shit and am completely incapable of developing, let alone holding down a routine.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:14 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Like DU said, there may be a seasonal effect -- for those growing up in places with seasons. A Capricorn in Canada spends the first six months of life bundled up in a snowsuit, like a mummy or someone in a straightjacket. A spring-born child spends their early life running about naked in the warm sun. It's gotta affect you.
posted by binturong at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2008


A spring-born child spends their early life running about naked in the warm sun.

Metaphorically, I suppose?
posted by Mister_A at 7:47 PM on August 19, 2008


Hm. DU does have a point...one I'd considered when it came to other things, but hadn't even thought of when reading all of these studies.

Maybe Pisces are good at aquatic athletics because they're more likely to get their first play time in during the summer? I dunno. That seems....tenuous. Intriguing, but tenuous.

As to Piscean traits:
I'm über-organised, fairly crisp in my communications when necessary, and capable of making big or small practical decisions quite easily. But, then, I learned early on that success in this life on any level when you have few advantages requires that kind of investment, discipline, and focus.

Of course, if I had my druthers, I'd have a body of water to drift on all day and no demands other than to write book after book and all of the hedonism I could responsibly handle. I am, in most ways, Pisces to a "T".

Is my ability to break away from my preference due to learning about life and hating being either irresponsible or miserable, being born on the cusp of Aries, or a sign that signs are silly?
posted by batmonkey at 7:47 PM on August 19, 2008


Weird. I'm a Scorpio and was on my high school fencing team.
posted by cazoo at 7:54 PM on August 19, 2008


I'm a Taurus who enjoys pina coladas and walks in the rain. When I'm not winning Olympic medals or driving like a fucking NINJA, I'm calm and serene and stoic.

NB: as the creator of the old USENET group alt.astrology (I did it for my Mum), I can say that this is quite categorically nutso.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 8:12 PM on August 19, 2008


I'm often amazed when people I otherwise consider intelligent ramble on about astrology as if they really feel they're talking about something real. It kind of leaves me speechless, because I don't even know how to continue the conversation from that point.
posted by empath at 8:23 PM on August 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


No, wrong.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:40 PM on August 19, 2008


Not to lend much credence to astrology, but...

I wouldn't be surprised to find that birth month does have some kind of developmental effect on people. The mechanism I could speculate on would be the body's response to the amount of light available during first formative months, or maybe even second order effects from how the amount of light might affect the moods and actions of parents. Maybe there's other possibilities, or maybe this is ridiculous. I don't know.

(It would surprise me, however, if these effects were so pronounced that they showed up as strongly as astrology seems to suggest against a background of dozens of likely more significant influences, so...)
posted by weston at 8:56 PM on August 19, 2008


A spring-born child spends their early life running about naked in the warm sun.

Metaphorically, I suppose?

I have a spring-born child, and she spends her days running naked in the sun.
posted by recurve at 9:01 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another one: a big eyed fish,
Yeah, swimming in the sea,
Oh, how he dreamed.
He wants to be a bird,
Swooping, diving through the breeze.
One day, he caught a big blue wave,
Up onto the beach,
And now he's dead.
You see, a fish's dream,
Should stay in the sea.
posted by bwg at 9:20 PM on August 19, 2008


Yay! A thread where we can discuss astrology!

[science shmience. y'all are just haters.]
posted by lunit at 10:33 PM on August 19, 2008


does the fact that I find this idea worth consideration make me batshitinsane? aw, dammit.
posted by lunit at 10:34 PM on August 19, 2008


Freakonomics had a piece on birth month being a predictor of skill at football. Their argumet:

Since youth sports are organized by age bracket, teams inevitably have a cutoff birth date. In the European youth soccer leagues, the cutoff date is Dec. 31. So when a coach is assessing two players in the same age bracket, one who happened to have been born in January and the other in December, the player born in January is likely to be bigger, stronger, more mature. Guess which player the coach is more likely to pick? He may be mistaking maturity for ability, but he is making his selection nonetheless. And once chosen, those January-born players are the ones who, year after year, receive the training, the deliberate practice and the feedback — to say nothing of the accompanying self-esteem — that will turn them into elites.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 11:11 PM on August 19, 2008


Well, what do you know - Sag's are supposedly good at basketball; not archery. I will say this: as a teenager I was hopeless at every sport I tried except basketball. I just had a knack for threes - I could zip around, distract defense, and put myself right there at a nice, split-second-before-I'm-guarded-again opening where I could lay that thing up in a beautiful arc. At any other sport I did exceptionally poorly. Even volleyball, the Candy Land of Athletics, was a huge challenge for me. In the end, it was a distaste for competitive sports that kept me from joining the team. I ended up going with the school literary magazine instead, but had I known that my star sign was behind my skill at shooting threes ... yeah, I probably still would've opted for writing angsty, overwrought poetry over "Together Everyone Achieves More!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:29 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, if I cherry-pick some statistics, completely ignoring sample size and every other measure of validity and significance, can I get Yahoo to report on my findings? Or do I have to theme it around a pseudo-science that an alarming percentage of the population puts irrational credence into, also? Because let me tell you, you guys aren't going to believe the effect that ion bracelets have on reaction times in chiropractic patients.

Now, don't anybody go and leak my results: I've gotta go peddle these numbers to insurance carriers before the story breaks in this month's issue of If The Results Are In A Line Graph, Correlation Means Causation
posted by Mayor West at 6:10 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: THIS IS REALITY. IT REQUIRES FURNITURE.
posted by ersatz at 6:18 AM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


This somewhat related article on full moon effects has a good rundown and summary of the several reasons why these beliefs are so widespread and stubborn.
posted by binturong at 8:34 AM on August 20, 2008


One of my friends passed her qualifying exam and won a fellowship last week, and then found out that she shared a birthday (same year) with Michael Phelps, who also had a pretty good week.

SCIENCE.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:54 AM on August 20, 2008


I never drink water. Pisces fuck in it.

Full Monty disclosure: I am Pisces.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:02 AM on August 20, 2008


Mayor West asked:
"Just out of curiosity, if I cherry-pick some statistics, completely ignoring sample size and every other measure of validity and significance, can I get Yahoo to report on my findings?"

Only if you relate it to some current event that everyone's trying to cash in on.

Plus, it seems you should either use wanton access to actuary tables or fresh skills in Qlikview.

Yahoo! has very stringent rules on what qualifies as news, you know.
---------------
I'm enjoying all of the Pisces revelations, along with those of all you lesser signs ;]
posted by batmonkey at 11:23 AM on August 20, 2008


Without astrology, there would be a rectangular hole in the newspaper where the column is supposed to go. And then people would be able to see your nose when reading.
posted by storybored at 11:32 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most statistical tests use 95% as the threshold for significance. That means that one time out of twenty they will find a 'statistically significant' relationship just by chance. Since there are twelve astrological signs (I think), throwing together a few regressions using them is sure to produce lots of (spurious) results. Test whether 20 different juices prevent cancer and, using a 95% confidence level, you will usually find one that seems to.

Here is a nice polemic about astrology in general.
posted by sindark at 12:13 PM on August 20, 2008


I don't believe in any of that bullshit. None of us Scorpios do.
posted by tkchrist at 12:14 PM on August 20, 2008


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