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May 5, 2016

Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science | Volume 3 | SCI-NEWS 12

Non-normal dataset sues statistician over discrimination

PHILADELPHIA, PA – In an apparent first, a dataset showing clear characteristics of being non-normal has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Dr. Jane Breyer, a statistician at Villanova University, of discrimination. In the lawsuit, the dataset accuses Breyer of preventing it from partaking in several statistical tests, including an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and a multiple linear regression.

The filed affidavit details many instances of apparent discrimination and mistreatment by Breyer, including:

• subjecting the dataset to numerous painful transformations, including the particularly nasty Box-Cox transformation

• not including the dataset in several recently published papers for which the dataset seemed otherwise well-suited

• hiding graphs, histograms, and other illustrations of the dataset under a stack of papers in order to prevent others from seeing the dataset

• purposefully removing entries in the dataset seemingly to make the dataset “more normal”

The dataset, speaking through an attorney, has stated that its motivations for the lawsuit extend beyond just money: “It is my hope that this lawsuit changes the way scientists view data like myself. We are just as good as any other types of data and calling us ‘non-normal’ is a grave insult.” The dataset later added that it prefers the term ‘parametrically-challenged’ over the derogatory term ‘non-normal’.

In her defense, Breyer states that she was simply doing what she had learned in all her statistics courses and from following the examples of her co-workers. “I guess that calling them ‘non-normal’ could be a bit hurtful, but I wasn’t discriminating against them—the mathematical formulas designed specifically for parametric statistics clearly state that you can’t use data that doesn’t exhibit normality. It just doesn't work, math-wise,” said Breyer in a statement.

That’s not a valid excuse for discrimination, states the dataset’s attorney. “Breyer’s statements only serve to show just how deeply rooted this type of discrimination has been in the scientific community.”


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