There is an interesting statistical angle to the strange case of accused Aurora Colorado mass murderer James Eagan Holmes, but it’s not about how many people died, how many were wounded or how many rounds of ammunition he was able to buy over the internet and have delivered to the University of Colorado. Before I get to that, let me point out that I know zip about statistics. I double majored for my B.A. in Political Science and Chicano Studies at CSU Northridge (CSUN) and later combined both disciplines to complete 22 units (with a 4.0 GPA) towards an M.A. special major before dropping out to become a private investigator. As a graduate drop out myself with a 4.0 GPA in some ways I wonder about James Holmes and how he dropped out of an otherwise distinguished academic career. To get my Political Science B.A. I had a choice between one of two requisite courses: I could either take basic statistics or basic logic. Having had no college/university level mathematics courses whatsoever (I got as far as Geometry in high school and had no comprehension past construction or loci; when it got to Trigonometry I got very clueless), I chose Logic over Statistics.
Looking back on that fateful decision, I wonder now how my life might have been different if I’d chosen statistics. I chose logic and studied under the eminent Ancient Greek Philosophy Professor (and personal friend) Dr. Bill Jacobs. Combined with my friend and mentor Dr. Phil Wall in Political Science, who chose to teach us our required Methodology course from the perspective of Philosophy of Science rather than from a statistical orientation, these two courses have had an enormous influence on my belief system and my way of interpreting the world and explaining it to others throughout my life.
I bring this up because Trinidad born Robert Milton Holmes Jr, James Eagan Holmes father, is an eminent statistician who got his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley after being mentored there by equally eminent Romanian born statistician Dr. Peter John Bickel. He is a long time member of the American Statistics Association (ASA). The elder Holmes writings include:
Contributions to the theory of parametric estimation in randomly censored data by Robert M Holmes (Book) — this was his 1981 Doctoral Dissertation at Cal Berkeley
QR code for A Statistical Analysis of the First Ten Years of Graduates of the Graduate Program in Hospital Administration, State University of Iowa, 1952-1961
Accession Number : ADA213235 Forecasting PCS (Permanent Change of Station ORT Moves Using Tree Classifications Descriptive Note : Technical note, Oct 1987-May 1988 Corporate Author : NAVY PERSONNEL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER SAN DIEGO CA Personal Author(s) : Holmes, Robert M. ; Pabiniak, Chester Report Date : AUG 1989
Accession Number : ADA200236 An Empirical Bayes Approach to Forecasting Marine Corps Enlisted Personnel Loss Rates Descriptive Note : Interim rept. Nov 1987-May 1988 Corporate Author : NAVY PERSONNEL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER SAN DIEGO CA Personal Author(s) : Boyle, James P. ; Holmes, Jr, Robert M. Report Date : SEP 1988
James Holmes parents, Robert and Arlene Rosemary Holmes, are roughly my age. The father was born in 1950 and his mother a year before me in 1954. In a tiny small world parallel, they used to live in the neighborhood I grew up in, Arleta, just two blocks away from my family home (literally, .24 miles away and 38 seconds drive according to Mapquest). This was for a couple of years just before James Holmes was born.
James Holmes himself is beginning to look more intriguing, if MORE is possible, with the discovery of his posting on “Adult Friend Finder,” which is a very “ADULT” only dating site in the sense of being semi-pornographic. He was advertising himself to be looking for anything from one on one to group sexual adventures. He apparently went into the site as recently as three days before his alleged shooting spree. Two items in his profile are really intriguing: on both “smoking” and “drugs” he answers that he prefers “not to say.” ?????WTF?????
What he’s not saying may speak volumes. Is Prefer not to say on smoking a code for marijuana rather than tobacco? Drugs? Prefer not to say sure sounds like “Yes but I’m not putting that out in public.”
Anyway, the final statistical analysis about James Holmes behavior that matters the most in this debacle is from the Book of Daniel, 5:25-28: Mene, Mene, Tekel, U-Pharsin. The writing on the wall. “It has been counted and counted and found wanting.”