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A poll

The term "error bars"

I am familiar with it and I am not American
I am familiar with it and I am American
I am familiar with it and I am some other option
I am not familiar with it and I am not American
I am not familiar with it and I am American
I am not familiar with it and I am some other option
Some other option
I would like to complain about this poll

I'm curious about what the "some other option" would be ... although I suppose it could be one of those "it's complicated" things.

I'm a US citizen but I've lived most of my life in Australia, so I'm American in some senses but possibly not the one relevant to the poll.

Error bars are the ones in jokes that typos and suchlike are always going into to make small talk with the bartender, right?

I voted "I am familiar with it and I am American" with two caveats: I didn't grow up in the U.S.A and I had to look up the term on Wikipedia to make sure that it meant what I thought it meant (it did.)


Do different nationalities have other terms for them? I mean, I just thought it was standard statistical stuff.

Looked it up. Never did much graphing in my stats courses. I love stats -- best part of maths in my worldview.


Hasn't everyone at least read Tufte?

Edwrd Tufte (Anonymous) Expand
(Deleted comment)
Well, as a physicist I should damn well know what they are. Though errors are frequently referred to as 'uncertainties' these days to better indicate their use as indicators of uncertainty of results rather than implying that the results have erred or are wrong.

However I don't think 'uncertainty bars' has become a phrase.

Are we talking standard deviation, standard error of the mean, or something else?

Something else, but you're in the right field.

I wasn't absolutely certain until I checked, but suspected it was statistical, so am now familiar with the term.

I answered I wasn't familiar with it because I was sure you meant something else.

Reading the comments I discover I was probably wrong.

No doubt you're aware that when Katie Melua wrote

We are 12 billion light-years from
the edge,
That's a guess,
No one can ever say it's true,
But I know that I will always be
with you.

Simon Singh rewrote it for her:

We are 13.7 billion light-years from
the edge of the observable universe,
That's a good estimate with well-defined error bars,
Scientists say it's true, but acknowledge that it may be refined,
And with the available information,
I predict that I will always be
with you

That is a thing of love.

I'm fairly sure I was familiar with the term from the first year of my undergraduate Physics course in the UK. Of course, most of our textbooks were American ...

Error bars: it's when you want a Mars bar fromt he machine but it gets you a Snickers.


I like this definition.

Error bars are the bane of my life. Stop overlapping, you bastards!

Those errors should drink in their own bars, thank you. We have enough standard deviants in ours.


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