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We all know the annual Marge Madness Tournament is a scientifically proven way to rank Simpsons characters from best (or funniest) to worst (or least funniest).

But wouldn't you like to know exactly how much funnier each character is than any other character on the show?

As part of my graduate studies in Measurement & Statistics, I had to complete a project on magnitude scaling. A magnitude scale allows us to determine the relative magnitudes of a range of stimuli (in this case, exactly how much funnier is Homer than, say, Carl?).

183 undergraduate students (and self-proclaimed Simpsons fans) from a private university in Iowa were surveyed. They were told that Bart Simpson, on some undefined scale of funny-ness, had a score of 50. They were then presented 20 other Simpsons characters and asked to rate those characters relative to Bart. For example, the first character presented was Homer. If a student believed Homer was 8 times as funny as Bart, the student rated Homer a 400 (50*8 = 400). If the student believed Homer was only two-thirds as funny as Bart, the student would rate Homer a 33.3 (.67*50=33.3). The students were allowed to use any positive number, including any decimals or fractions.

The results of the survey can be found at http://homepage.mac.com/bradthiessen

A few observations from the survey (if you download the results, simply divide any character's score by another character's score):

1. Homer is 2.8 times as funny as Bart, 20.26 times as funny as Maggie, and 6.094 times as funny as Carl.

2. Bart is 1.7 times as funny as Milhouse

3. Selma is 1.07 times as funny as Patty.

4. Mr. Burns is three times as funny as Mr. Smithers.

5. If today's brackets can be predicted by the survey, Flanders will receive 1.02 times as many votes as Krusty. Chief Wiggum will receive 1.3 times as many votes as Abe Simpson.

If anyone wasn't bored to death with this post & would like to learn more about magnitude scaling, send me an e-mail. I'll send you a pdf file of my project (which is <10 pages long, including appendices).

Soup