Walter Blackman Tells It Like it Is: The Importance of Collecting Data to Drive National Development

Walter Blackman - Actuary and Social Commentator

Walter Blackman – Actuary and Social Commentator

David October 25, 2015 at 10:37 AM #

Interesting intervention, the problem though is that we have a population which feels comfortable forming opinions based on a feeling and forget the cry to pressure the establishment to collect available […]data. Where can a better experiment be found than to look at the cricket data set.

With all due respect to the disabled, I feel the need to pass on to you what my sister passed on to me years ago: “Feeling is for the blind”. Too many members of our population are “blind”. That explains why one-eyed men are kings in Barbados. The educated and enlightened ones know the value of using statistical data, distributions and their means and variances, along with hypothesis testing, as tools to assist with national planning and to achieve national objectives.

We have over 50 years of primary, secondary, and tertiary education data. Let us say that there is a global need for 1/2 billion doctors over the next 10 years. What is the probability that Barbados can produce 20,000 of the world’s requirement for doctors in the next decade?

How much of the world’s actuaries, engineers, accountants, investments managers are we aiming to produce in the next 8 years?

Have you ever heard a Minister of Education in Barbados bringing this sort of thinking to the table for discussion? How does the threat of cracking heads and shooting people fit into effective national human resource planning, one of the most basic and fundamental responsibilities of the Minister of Education?

We have over 50 years of political data on the performance of candidates from two major political parties in Barbados. Based on this history, what statistical distribution has been used to predict the performance of the major political parties in Barbados? What is the standard error of this distribution? What is the probability that neither one of the political parties will muster 35% of the eligible vote in the next general election in Barbados?

Have you ever heard Peter Wickham raising such issues? Instead, Peter has used pseudo science (making unscientific pronouncements and projections based on first differences (a “swing”)) to persuade and guide voters into producing an electoral result that HE wants. Attempts made in the last election to create polling results to suit HIS agenda confirm this.

For reasons known only to himself, Peter Wickham wanted the political leadership of Barbados to be controlled by Chris Sinckler and Mia Mottley. Small, and biased polls could have been easily used to start the ball rolling.

Furthermore, the first English settlers (all males) collected some African slaves (all males) and headed for Barbados. Therefore, Barbados has been experiencing homosexuality for almost 500 years. What statistical distribution should we use to predict the incidence of homosexuality in Barbados? What is the mean and variance of this distribution? What is the probability that at least 20% of Barbadians today are homosexuals? Why is Peter Wickham using the airwaves of Barbados to advance the cause and benefits of homosexuality? Did the majority of Barbadians clamour for this discussion? Again, similar to political polling, the discussion on homosexuality is aimed at producing a result that Peter wants.

And now to cricket and its dynamics.  We have compiled almost 100 years of data on the West Indies cricket team. Based on the team that we are playing, we have to find the best statistical distribution, and its mean and variance, to assist us with our decision making.

For example, let us say that we know, on average, our individual fast bowlers over the past 100 years had to bowl  80 balls before they were able to break our opponents’ opening partnership. Today, we have six fast bowlers who are competing for a place on the team, and the average amount of balls each had to bowl to break an opening partnership are: 120, 78, 160, 140, 72, 200. Which two should we select? Should we be satisfied with the current batch? Or should we let everyone in the Caribbean know that we are desperately searching for fast bowlers and set up invitational clinics and training venues to attract and develop talented prospects?

Assume that we are playing against Australia. Historically, Australia has applied immense pressure on our batsmen in the 2nd innings when we are chasing runs to win. Our statistical distribution tells us that one batsman, with a higher test batting average, has a 20% chance of making 50 runs in the 2nd innings of a match. Another batsman has a 55% chance of making at least 50 runs in his 2nd innings. Only one of them can play. Which one should be selected?

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81 Comments on “Walter Blackman Tells It Like it Is: The Importance of Collecting Data to Drive National Development”

  1. Sunshine Sunny Shine October 28, 2015 at 3:09 AM #

    @Walter Blackman

    I hope all this praise being heaped on you do not swell your head and make you believe that you are some all knowing oracle immune to the ideas of others. You sound like the stuff integrity is made of. We have a serious lack of that coming from both political parties. We need people who understand country and the importance of managing it well. Not shites with ambitions base on get rich schemes. Plus we want people who are not afraid of going after the despicable thieving status quo and who will not be easily brought by suitcase wielding money business. Are you that man Walter Blackman.


  2. TheObserver October 31, 2015 at 9:12 PM #

    I make my living as a statistician in the USA, so please accepts my compliment on your recommendation that we use more statistical modeling in making our decisions.

    However, I want to comment on two of your statements.

    I may be a bit over my head on the homosexual issue, but I believe that homosexuality of today cannot be explained by the homosexuality of yesterday. I wonder if with sexual tourism and with hard and difficult times if these acts are practised only by homosexuals.

    I like your venture into the use of statistics in selecting the WI cricket team. I see even some Bayesian thinking where you use suggest the use of historical data in making your selection, but I suspect that such thinking is already being employed.

    Part of Bayesian modeling is adjusting your probabilities when new data become available. So if your primary selection makes a few ducks he will be off of the team as his probability is adjusted downwards. The pressure to perform, the continual changing of the team would wreak havoc on team spirit and teamwork. I agree that our decision making (selection process) needs some improvement


  3. David November 12, 2015 at 5:12 PM #

    What an interesting observation by Cheryl Willougby, head of substance abuse – she claims if one wants to do research to establish link with crime and alcohol for example, said person has to request data from several departments. How are we to describe ourselves as education having sunk billions in education only to find we can’t access the data to improve our lot?


  4. Hants November 12, 2015 at 6:30 PM #

    @ David who wrote ” said person has to request data from several departments.”

    So these departments are located in Iceland, Antartica and the Kalahari desert.


  5. David November 12, 2015 at 7:14 PM #


    We have government departments operating on disparate systems. The fact there is no motivation to integrate or share platforms is an indication of the level of ignorance that abounds.


  6. Bush Tea November 12, 2015 at 7:26 PM #

    @ David
    You playing that you don’t understand what she is saying…?

    People have to BRING that data and hand it to her…. She won’t be running around anywhere searching for it…. think she got a masters degree fuh sport…?
    …think these women easy nuh…?

    What the hell is wrong with a research department making it THEIR business to GET OUT THERE and collect the needed data – by whatever means required – to achieve their mandate?
    What the hell else do they actually DO anyway? …sit around counting how many people got shot, stabbed and choked? ….yuh mean the police don’t do that BY DEFAULT?

    Steupsss…. the money being paid to them could REALLY be redirected to hiring a few more damn policemen or real real judges….


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