Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Forty-Seven Percent Rule

There is an old joke that goes, "Forty-seven percent of all statistics are meaningless." I've always enjoyed the sub textual humor of that. Now when somebody, like my employer for instance, wants to know my exact limitations I will tell them, with respect to a certain task that I happen to find difficult because of my brain injury, I can do that forty-seven percent of the time.

I look them square in the eye and say it with all earnest, as though I have kept a record with carefully calculated results, and I am recalling the exact number from memory, which is in and of itself ludicrous, as I have a brain injury. It is also ludicrous to try and describe my very real limitations from brain injury in black and white. So I tell them I can do it forty-seven percent of the time.

This is a very specific number to illustrate the absurdity of the question. First I start with the basic fifty percent "sometimes I can" "Sometimes I can't." Then I trend downward for Murphy's law. This is the law that says when it is really important I probably won't be able to do it, but still almost even. Forty-nine and forty-eight are too easy round up to fifty so I have to dip a little lower. This leaves forty-seven because at forty-six and below I start sounding like I mostly can't do something, and that's not the way I look at the world.

            On days that I'm feeling immortal I go for the polar opposite 'fifty-three percent,' which says that I can usually get it right, but since this whole discussion usually comes up when I'm trying to illustrate that I do, in fact, have a brain injury, that does, in fact, hamper my day, I usually go with the downward slope to forty-seven.

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