Just a coincidence

Stuart Lynn told some of us at lunchtime about a rather extra-odinary letter written recently by the California Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Its a letter to a Democratic Assemblyman written in oddly convoluted language. If you trace the initial letters of each line, you get the secret message : F – U – C – K – Y – O – U. Stuart gave us a web link.

You can read about this matter on the Huffington Post, where a spokesperson expresses surprise, because clearly it was a coincidence… There are about six million other postings on this story, but I see that this article at the SF weekly consults a Math Professor in order to quantify the unlikelihood. On the basis that the letters concerned are at the beginning of a word about 10% of the time, said Prof states that the probability of this combination of letters happening by chance is one in ten million. (Ten to the power seven).

So, members of the Statistics 101 class, discuss.

10 Responses to Just a coincidence

  1. Steve W says:

    slsogl?? I can’t crack it

  2. Michael Merrifield says:

    Well, one could launch into an extended debate as to the relative merits of a Bayesian or frequentist analysis of this critical question.

    Or one could just enjoy the idea of a politician with a sense of humour who really doesn’t give a flying fig.

    I think I know which one has the higher probability.

  3. Hannah says:

    Isn’t it more likely that he has upset someone on his staff?

  4. “slsogl?? I can’t crack it”

    Because this site is HTML. The line breaks depend on browser width. Schwarzenegger’s text was in a PDF document, though, so that problem doesn’t apply there.

    Whether or not it was intentional, I don’t know. If so, I doubt Arnie himself is the perpetrator. However, what amazes me is people wasting time finding hidden acrostics!

  5. Arnie says:

    I’ll be back.

  6. Paul says:

    In my experience, one in 10 million chances come up nine times out of ten…
    Or maybe I’m just not filling out my risk register accurately enough?

  7. Arnie says:

    There is a 90% chance I’ll be back.

  8. Tony says:

    @Paul: actually, it is one in a million chances that come up nine times out of ten. And I wonder if anyone got flamed as a result 🙂

  9. Arnie says:

    It seems more likely that there is a 90% chance I’ll be back.

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