# 539: Boyfriend

 Boyfriend Title text: ...okay, but because you said that, we're breaking up.

## Explanation

In classical statistics, statistical significance is used to determine whether a conclusion can be confidently made about the implications of a given set of data. If some data set is determined to be an appropriate sample of a given population, then conclusions can be made by determining trends in the data. Since one can never be completely sure that their data is truly representative, or their statistical analysis completely accurate, calculations of the likelihood of error are made. Once these calculations are made, it can be decided that a given conclusion is statistically significant because it passes a certain threshold for the likelihood of error. Because the statistical analysis that was done concluded that it is significantly more likely that the conclusions made are accurate than inaccurate, these conclusions are termed statistically significant.

In this case, Megan has analyzed the amount of time that Cueball spends with her versus others in his life. Based on the data she has gathered, she constructed a box plot. A box plot is a way to present data that utilizes boxes to show the range that a certain percentage of data points fall into. The boxes denote quartiles, so the large box demonstrates the range between the lowest and highest quartile, and the line in the center of the box denotes the median of the entire data set. The bars extend to the outer limits of the data set, encompassing the highest and lowest points (but excluding outliers). Box plots are useful to show the spread of data, and how it may be skewed. For more on box plots, see Box plot. Megan uses the data she has collected to show that the amount of time that Cueball spends with her is significantly higher than the amount of time he spends with others, since the amount of time they spend together is high enough to be an outlier when she completes a statistical analysis of the time he spends with people in his life.

Cueball accepts her claim, and she responds with a witticism that combines the phrases "statistically significant" and "significant other".

The title text can be interpreted in multiple ways. Firstly, Cueball may be resistant to the title of boyfriend. As he indicates, he is currently casually dating multiple people, and may therefore be resistant to any single individual attempting to establish a monogamous relationship. It could also be inferred that anyone taking the time and effort to statistically examine their relationship with him is off-putting, as this behavior could be viewed as obsessive. It could also be theorized that the term statistically significant other seems cold, and Cueball would rather date someone who makes him feel as though their relationship is significant, not simply someone who is an outlier in terms of time spent together. However, we know how Cueball responds to graphs without axes, so part of his rejection may stem from his disdain of her graph's lack of necessary units (for all we know, he could be spending significantly less time with Megan than with others! ...Or it could just be that it's a cringe-worthy pun, and Cueball doesn't appreciate Megan being so pun-happy. The unduly[citation needed] severe consequences for an over-elaborate pun setup are analogous to how another Cueball gets his math license revoked over a pun.

## Transcript

[Megan is on the phone.]
Megan: Can my boyfriend come along?
[Cueball talks to Megan.]
Cueball: I'm not your boyfriend!
Megan: You totally are.
Cueball: I'm casually dating a number of people.
[Megan points to a chart with gray box plot with a single black dot as an outlier to the far right.]
Megan: But you spend twice as much time with me as with anyone else. I'm a clear outlier.
[Cueball puts his hand on his chin while Megan spreads out her arms.]
Cueball: Your math is irrefutable.
Megan: Face it—I'm your statistically significant other.

# Discussion

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