The N Factor: Britney’s Naughtiness Rating Calculated For IdiotsApril 3, 2009
In his Guardian (UK) column, Bad Science, Ben Goldacre is constantly crusading against idiot maths in the media.
In recent years PR companies have asked ‘mathematicians’ who should know better (Show-Me-The-Money ethics may be involved) to come up with some crazy formula to grab media attention. These formulae are, for the most part, not based on evidence, trail and error or any other conceivable scientific method. They are just formulae strung together for effect.
Ben Goldacre sights in his column some of the “important breakthroughs in the field of mathematical modelling as: The Perfect Sitcom (quality = (rd+v)f÷a+s) to promote UKTV Gold; The Perfect Joke (x = (fl + no)/p) to promote some comedian; The Perfect Day (quality = O + NS + Cpm÷T + He) to promote ice cream; The Perfect Rugby Kick (KP = CSP – s + w + r + yn + cr + sc + mt + xn + ctw), which somehow has something to do with a research company called Qinetiq; The Perfect Marriage (some guy); The Perfect Chip (Tesco)” and so on.
From pouring beer, to making the perfect piece of toast, to popping champagne there is no human activity that cannot be summed up by a rubbish formula. You can make up one yourself simply because each of those letters (called ‘a variable’ in an equation) DO NOT stand for anything that can actually be measured. So these formulae can’t be proved right but, then again, they can’t be proved wrong!!!!!! How do I know? Look at the formula for the Perfect Joke.
A comedic value is determined by multiplying the funniness of the punchline (f) by the length of the build-up (l). This is added to the amount someone falls over (n) to the power of o – the “Ouch” factor of physical pain or social embarrassment. The total is then divided by the number of puns, which reduce laughter.
The “perfect” joke would therefore score 10 for punchline and length and contain a high number of pratfalls or social embarrassments but no puns. So many traditional gags, such as the “doctor, doctor” or “knock, knock” jokes that have short build-ups, no falling over and end in puns, score lowly.
Do you really think you can measure, um, the f , the funniness, or o ‘ouch’ factor? Is the whole formula a joke? Yes!!!!!! And they can’t even get the maths sort of right. IF there were no puns (ie. p = 0 ) then the jokes rating would equal
Now we arrive at Britney: “How to tell if the boobline is too low” equation O=NP(20C+B)/75″ published in THE SUN (UK) alongside a pic of Britney at her 27th Birthday Party with boob containment problems.
Apparently…. “scientists, undies experts and mathematicians have been trying to figure out where the decency perimeter lies. And here we can exclusively reveal the formula to work it out.”
O is the naughtiness rating, N is a multiple of fractions of nipple shown (N) and P is the percentage of exposed frontal surface area. As Ben Goldacre suggested, we’ll stop there.
If anyone wants to oggle at Britney’s boobs they do not need an idiot mathematical formula to help them do it.