The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Monday, June 07, 2004


Home of More Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity: and I'm not so sure about the universe. Einstein

From the Cabalmaster:

We here at The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal have received a bit of “intelligence” (sic) from several FOCs regarding the rantings of favorite targets for ridicule and riposte!

Our “intelligence” reports have it that the Fearless Fudgemeister himself, Wendell Cox, is a regular reader of our blog. He never comments – according to reports – but certain of his “followers” love to trade barbs and insults about Your Favorite Transit Pundits.

Our “intelligence” reports have it that some of them got REALLY in a snit after our recent Oscar-winning post, “Wendell Cox Can’t Count . . . but Bugs Bunny Can!”

Our “intelligence” reports that the “Voluble Viscount of Verbosity,” the one, the only, Thomas A. Rubin, CPA, CMA, CMC, CIA, CGFM, CFM (think you could squeeze “KGB” or, more poetically, “NKVD” in there, Tom?) was also in a bit of a snit. In fact . . .

Rubin’s reported pique at our ridicule of a certain “Wendellpage” (“US Metro (Heavy Rail) Rankings 1996” was sufficient to suggest that Rubin did the number crunching!

And so, our “intelligence” reports tend to suggest that Rubin is one of Wendell’s “Denizens of Demographia”!!

For the benefit of Intrepid Websurfers who missed it the first time around, here is the “offending” post:



Sometimes, when you least expect it, when you’re not looking, when your guard is down, etc and so forth . . .

Up pops yet another egregious example of Wendell’s mathematical and statistical sophistry. (Or incompetence . . . we’re not sure which.)

Among the “hits” from a recent Google search included a “Wendellpage” titled “US Metro (Heavy Rail) Rankings 1996”

This includes three tables, ranking ten U.S. heavy rail systems on:

--“Cost per Vehicle Hour: 1996”

--“Passenger Miles per Vehicle Mile: 1996”

--“Cost per Passenger Mile: 1996”

But Wendell, as usual, can’t resist the urge to continue rather than quit while he’s ahead. So, in addition to crude (= “as-is”) statistics and rank order, he adds a column titled “Variance.” (Ha!)

The customary reference point for a “variance” is an average or some other measure of “central tendency” (e.g. median, mode).

But Wendell, as usual, does it . . . HIIIIIS WAY! (Apologies to the late, great Frank Sinatra.) The reference point for Wendell’s “variances” are . . . you guessed it . . . the top-ranked number, either smallest or largest. (Ha, ha!).

This has the effect of magnifying the difference (a typical Wendell-ian trick). It’s true that “$2.628” is “1321.4%” larger than “$0.185” . . . but “$0.185” is a mere 92.9604% smaller than “$2.628.”

(Hey, don’t take our word for it . . . give it a try on your trusty H-P or TI. And while you’re at it . . . you might consider avoiding spurious precision -- “1321.4%” – which is another Wendell-ian trick.)

What makes this even more laughable is that one table (“Cost per Passenger Mile: 1996”) DOES present an “Average”! (HA, HA!)

In the inimitable words of Bugs Bunny:

Regardless of what Wendell might think (e.g., we can predict his response to anyone inquiring about the above:

If pushed, he might resort (gulp!) to (gasp!) an “ad hominem” attack (aaauuurrgh!):

One of these days, we may even receive a communiqué from Wendell himself. Imagine his thoughts:

And what Wendell would like you to believe about the impact of this missive (should we ever receive it . . .):

And here’s what Wendell would no doubt LOVE to hear from Your Favorite Transit Pundits:

Y’know, maybe WE should quit while we’re ahead. But . . . we can’t resist one last parting shot (which, after all, is you like this blog so much!):


To reiterate our point in the post above: A “variance” from the “largest” or “smallest” number in a set of data is nothing more than a propaganda tool. But that’s just what you'd expect from the likes of Wendell Cox, Thomas Rubin, Randal O’Toole, Jonathan Richmond, and so forth.

We’ll bet that at least some Intrepid Websufers share our delight in anticipating the theme of the “ad hominem” attacks at us by followers of . . . well, you know, Mr. Fudge.

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