539: Boyfriend

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...okay, but because you said that, we're breaking up.
Title text: ...okay, but because you said that, we're breaking up.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Various mathematical definitions may need to be revised, the very confident and general interpretation of Cueballs behaviour as typical stereotype could use citation or may be worded more carefully.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

In classical statistics, statistical significance is used to measure how well a set of data demonstrates a particular hypothesis or statement, typically with regards to an expected or empirical distribution. In particular, it makes judgment about how likely that the observed effect is real, and not just the result of a sampling anomaly. Conversely, the term significant other is used to refer to a person's intimate relation, typically a spouse or a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend. They are the "significant other" person in their life, apart from themselves.

Megan asserts her claim that Cueball is her boyfriend by presenting the time that he had spend with people in the form of a box plot, (sometimes called a box-and-whisker plot) with her data point lying far ahead of the rest of the chart, which signifies that Cueball has spent more time with Megan than anyone else. Cueball accepts her claim, and she responds with a witticism that combines the phrases "statistically significant" and "significant other".

The title text can be interpreted in multiple ways. For example, these these plays on words are sometimes held in poor regard: even though she proved her point, Cueball decides to break up with her as the result. Also, some men, once they have realized they have dated someone so long as to be called a boyfriend, may decide to break up, because they do not wish that any woman makes such a claim on them. It could be also that Megan has spent all this time with Cueball with the express intention to make this joke, and not to be with him out of love, in which case Cueball could rightfully feel slighted.

Another way to interpret the title text would be that Megan uses the phrase “statistically significant” incorrectly while refererring to a single point representing herself. Indeed, a single point in statistics is never significant. It is more likely to be an observational error or an outlier than new or interesting data. For her relationship to be significantly different to that of all the other women that Cueball has been dating, she should have performed a more detailed analysis. For example, she could have measured the time per week she spends with Cueball over a long-enough period, and recorded both mean and variance. She should have performed the same measurements for all the women that Cueball has dated. Only then can a "normal" distribution of Cueball's dating behaviour can be inferred, and possibly an argument can be made that his behaviour with Megan is indeed different.

Since Megan herself states both verbally and graphically via the presented boxplot, she clearly is a single outlier in the dataset. This may indicate an error in the data gathering process, which could result in the exclusion of “her” datapoint from the dataset. That in turn would mean that the dataset presented by her does not support her reasoning of being Cueball’s statistically significant other, but would indicate, that she has made an error in her data collection or data processing.


[Megan is on the phone.]
Megan: Can my boyfriend come along?
[Cueball talks to Megan.]
Cueball: I'm not your boyfriend!
Megan: You totally are.
Cueball: I'm casually dating a number of people.
[Megan points to a chart with gray box plot with a single black dot as an outlier to the far right.]
Megan: But you spend twice as much time with me as with anyone else. I'm a clear outlier.
[Cueball puts his hand on his chin while Megan spreads out her arms.]
Cueball: Your math is irrefutable.
Megan: Face it—I'm your statistically significant other.

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