Matt Damon: Fun With Actuarial Science

For those who have not yet seen the above video, let me fill you in.  Matt Damon cites Actuarial Science Life Tables to surmise a 1 in 3 chance of John McCain not surviving beyond his first term, giving Sarah Palin an estimated 34% likelihood of being heir to the office of President, a prospect Damon finds “scary.”

Bourne’s politics aside, and his assumption that Sarah Palin’s belief that dinosaurs existed 4,000 years ago would negatively affect her performance as President not withstanding, the most awesome part of this video is the smug ass way he cites PROBALITY to legitimize his concern.  Since you’re probably liberal, you most likely majored in the humanities (English, Theater, Queer Theory) and have no understanding of numbers and the relationship between them that define the likelihood of something occurring.  That’s okay, neither do we.  It’s Modern Jackass, baby.  Let’s make it up together.

Fortunately for us and fortunately for you, good reader, one of our shortest friends is an actuary in Chicago, the cubical capitol of the world.  We caught up with him on g-chat and asked if he could elaborate on Damon’s mathematical methods:

42 minutes
1:23 PM me: dude
1:24 PM can we be real
for just
ONE second
when matt damon says:
“when you do the actuary tables there’s a 1/3 chance mccain survives his first term…”
can you elaborate on that? as an actuary?
maybe providei some sort of table in pdf format?
1:25 PM Mactuary: there’s nothing to elaborate on
there are “illustrative life tables”
that are pretty accurate
me: are they actually
visual tables
Mactuary: yeah..i have them at home
let me see if i can find one
me: can i find them online?
1:26 PM Mactuary: maybe
but they might block wanna-be’s IPs
ya digg?
1:27 PM me: even in the name of serving matt damon?
doubt it.
i just want to put on for actuarial science
since matt damon
dropped it
in the most viewed video of the day
the only rep actuaries get are by ben stiller in comedies
about being scared to eat nuts
damon rolls up
and is like
guess what
1:28 PM actuarial tables will determine the course of this country
is all i’m saying
1:29 PM c’mon
Mactuary: yeah..dude..i’m a prophet
1:30 PM me: of course i need help
explaining that.
go to page 11
“lx” are the number of lives at a given age
“dx” are the number who leave the system
me: as in
1:31 PM Mactuary: yes.
shouldn’t be too hard..even for a liberal brain.
Macabre.  We know, but it’s cold, hard science, and Will Hunting ain’t tryna be gentle.  Using the actuarial tables provided by our “friend,” you can see that there are 48,259 people living at any given point in the United States at the age of 72.  You can also see that number decreases to 37,127 at the age of 76.  As our in-house actuary explains it, that’s 11,132 people that “leave the system.”
Mactuary: so, the PERCENTAGE of lives, on average (aka probablilty) that make it from 72 to 76 is ~77%
Stay with us, humanities majors.  That means the percentage of those who didn’t make it is about 23%.  What next?
2:27 PM
me: how can i convert
me: 23%
into a ratio
Mactuary: really?
me: right
1 in
Mactuary: what do you fools study in school?
2:28 PM its about 1 in 4
good gods
are you messing with me right now??
1 in 4 people, on average don’t “remain within the system” between the ages of 72 and 76, according to actuarial science tables.  Factoring in McCain’s history with skin cancer, and purported smoking habit, that ratio very feasibly becomes 1 in 3, as Damon mentioned.  Of course then he went on to talk about Hockey Moms in a way that anyone who isn’t already a fan of either Damon or Obama will construe as condescending and indicative of the smug nature of the Hollywood Left, so any rational argument he made based on actuarial science will be lost and dismissed by a ravenous right.  What can you do?  That’s politics, but at least we got Damon making actuaries relevant again.

16 Responses to Matt Damon: Fun With Actuarial Science

  1. beema says:

    Barack Obama enlists Bill Clinton, George Bush, Matt Damon and Kanye West to rebut and deflect the ‘lipstick issue’. Check out the video here,

  2. Can you replace “our ‘friend'” with “my ‘geppetto'”?

  3. Can you replace “me” with “dmb957”?

  4. r.i.p. leroi moore. eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we have a 1 in however many chance of dying according to actuarial life tables.

  5. Jimbo says:

    Just thought you might want to know that by far the majority of all scientists (people who majored in mathematics, biology, chemistry… etc) are liberal. Actually the majority of all people with graduate degrees in any area are liberal. Strange how the more informed/educated you become and the more you understand and think about things, the more liberal you become…..

  6. no says:

    What’s funny is that Obama’s parents are both dead–even though they were young breeders, but McCain’s mom is still alive at like, 140.

    So my money is on McCain surviving the next 8 years, not Obama.

  7. Bull Moose says:

    “Just thought you might want to know that by far the majority of all scientists (people who majored in mathematics, biology, chemistry… etc)”

    That may be your perception but I don’t think it is neccesarily true. For instance, I worked for a major pharma in the Midwest and everyone was pretty conservative. I moved to the left coast to work at a major biotech and everyone is extremely left. I thought everyone in science was conservative when I worked in the midwest and people who have only ever worked at my biotech company thinks all scientists are extremely liberal. Academic scientists tend to be pretty liberal. It depends where you are when you are evaluating it.

  8. RealActuary says:

    Just to let you know, I believe the “illustrative life tables” in the above discussion are fake tables made up so students have something to use to work out problems. You should really look at a 2000 CSO table, or some other real table. I’m an actuary at a life insurance company. Using the 2000 CSO table for a 72 year old male of average health, the probability turns out to be more like a 14% chance of death in the next 4 years. In other words a 1/7 chance. Thats almost half the chance that Damon claims. You could try to make arguments for the cancer, but these tables already include aggregate illnesses, and many people of age 72 have a variety of health issues. The fact that McCain can move around like he does makes him seem more healthy than your average 72 year old male.

  9. Commingle Male says:

    “Can you replace “me” with “dmb957″?”

    I second that, mr. domes.

  10. FakeActuary says:

    RIP leroi moore. real talk. but on some other real talk, yall gonna die.

  11. Mattson K says:

    I second that and third commingle male

  12. […] – I’m OUT!” on me to end whatever political conversation we’ve been having (again, not an actual actuary, but it’s about 1 in 3 half-drunk convos), the bike lanes in Albequerque and Bucharest (film […]

  13. CB says:

    But I also wonder if this number goes up for a POW. Are there any tables for that? You can’t tell me those experiences have not had an affect on him. Possibly on his overall health and life expectancy. Being held in a detention camp, Tortured, deprived, malnourished. Everyone has seen the pictures when the Allies liberated the Nazi concentration camps. I imagine they looked very similar.

  14. CB says:

    Oh and not to mention he is going into the most stressful job in the world. Where you can actually see the presidents age year by year. I never thought I would say this, but I agree with Matt Damon. This situation scares the ever living shit out of me. As it should any sane educated person.

  15. Tom Sturm says:

    Let’s ask a real actuary (me). If we use the 2003 United States Life Tables for white males, the figures are:

    Age Mortality Rate

    72 0.032724
    73 0.036002
    74 0.039756
    75 0.043696

    Probability of not surviving his first term = 1 – (1 – .032724)*(1 – .036002)*(1 – .039756)*(1 – .043696) = 14.4%.

    Now McCain has a skin cancer history, which would increase the probability of not surviving a first term. However, he is obviously significantly more robust than the average 72 year old (as evidenced by his stamina in the campaign). In addition, he receives the very best in health care available in the world.

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