Graham, L. et al
Fourth year PhD candidate Calvin Xu recently earned himself a Guinness World Record after admitting that he has learned and forgotten basic statistics 19 ± 2 times over the past eight years.
“It never sticks, despite the increasingly large sample size,” said Xu, who has previously had to learn stats for analytical biochemistry, analyzing his own lab data, and three actual stats courses.
Xu always suspected that his “stats-nesia” was an outlier, but only recently relearned that the he would need a Q test to confirm that, which he then calculated with 95% confidence and sent to Guinness World Records immediately.
Impressively, Xu had already forgotten how to do a Q test by the time a Guinness rep contacted him a few days later.
Though he thought his goldfish-like memory for data analysis would be an issue in graduate school, he says he doesn’t let it affect him too much.
“I’m pretty sure I have proper error bars in all my papers,” explained Xu, “but how I got them? No clue.” Luckily, he says, it’s not too hard to re-learn.
“Just arrange some x’s and s’s into an equation, throw a square root sign over it and hope for the best.”
Xu says he expects to learn and forget stats a few more times before his thesis defence next year.