back to article What is the probability of being drunk at work and also being tested? Let's find out! Correctly

Analytical skills are in big demand so it is really important not to make the basic, common, mistakes that show you up as a newbie. For example, probability calculations are often performed on binary outcomes such as "What is the probability that a given policy holder will claim?" The result is binary because they will either …

  1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    comes in drunk 12 times per annum

    = once a month

    weekly testing = 4 ish times per month

    20 ish working days per month

    odds of catching .. 5.ish to 1

    er, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "= once a month"

      Except for most people that would be:

      "Week of birthday - drunk 2 days"

      "Week before Christmas - drunk 5 days"

      "Week between Christmas and New Year - drunk 5 days"

      :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They never heard of a Friday working lunch? In the pub natch.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        The 'correct' calculation has not factored in the test frequency whatsoever.

        If the tests were run on 52 consecutive days, if the drunk managed to miss out on being caught for those his chances for the rest of the year are 100%, even if he comes in drunk on 12 consecutive days.

        Also, human behaviour being what it is, isn't it more likely that it will be a Monday that the person would be drunk, or a Friday afternoon for example?

        Still, useful article :P

        1. Joe Werner Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: test frequency

          Yes, it has the test *frequency* in: on average once per month or once per year or whatever. It says nothing about how these should be distributed over the year, so the assumption is randomly. This is what frequency means in stats. This is what those people we call "frequentists" strive on.

          What you describe is factoring in prior knowledge, and that is something that Bayes' rule can do for you - but not within the scope of that article... (I leave looking up a relevant xkcd as an exercise for the reader).

          Mine's the one with the hip flask...

          1. Mark 110

            Re: test frequency

            If tests were on Friday mornings you may stand a better chance of catching people as they start to let their hair down Friday nights. This would further interfere with the probabilities.

            Theres a brilliant book on the history of stats - let me find it . . . blah, bloody Google - its on my Kindle - 2 mins . . . Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk. Very highly recommended.

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: test frequency

              Sheesh, you guys do love to overcomplicate these things...

              Testing happens 1 day in 5 ("weekly"). So each time the target comes in drunk, they've got a 20% chance of being tested that day.

              If they do it 12 times a year, their chance of getting away with it every time is (0.8 ^ 12 = ) 6.87%.

            2. Bibbit

              Re: test frequency

              Just ordered the book. Thanks for the recommendation.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      comes in drunk 12 times per annum = once a month

      Analytical engine I usually work with suggests it's day after payday.

  2. tiggity Silver badge

    and in the real world

    You might not just test on a few decided in advance "random" days, but decide on behavior, breath smell etc of one or more staff on a given day to make that day a "hunch" test day (obviously testing everyone so as to be non discriminatory).

    1. theModge

      Re: and in the real world

      I thought in the real world you only tested people you wanted rid of anyway, in the hope they'd show up drunk and make it easy for you?

      Probably less the case with Network Rail (who really don't like there poor employees drinking), but I've heard of it working that way in the private sector, especially banks and the like.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: and in the real world

        "I thought in the real world you only tested people you wanted rid of anyway, in the hope they'd show up drunk and make it easy for you?"

        One of the customers I visit from time to time will grab anyone who is on-site, employee or visitor, for random drug/alcohol testing - it's something you have to agree to to be allowed on-site at all.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: and in the real world

      in the real world, drunk guy* will just pull a sickie

      somehow, it's always a guy, I've never seen a woman drunk at work

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: and in the real world

        I've seen the fair sex drunk at work many times. On six continents. To be fair, though, the dudes are far far more likely to imbibe to excess during working hours, at least in my experience.

      2. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: and in the real world

        @jmch:

        " in the real world, drunk guy* will just pull a sickie

        somehow, it's always a guy, I've never seen a woman drunk at work "

        Does not compute. If you see drunk guys at work, but never drunk women, who do you think is taking sickies again?

        1. msknight Silver badge

          Re: and in the real world

          Chance of catching a tea teetotaller in a year is 0%... so even the 100% is wrong.

          1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: and in the real world

            I was going to say... Chances for me are preeeeety much zero. :)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: and in the real world

            >Chance of catching a tea teetotaller in a year is 0%

            Not here stateside. Gave up booze when hit my 30s as well as cigs. Now I am old, almost live like a Mormon minus consuming enough caffeine in a day to kill a horse. Have to feed the addiction side of my brain somehow and one of the safer ways I suppose.

            1. kain preacher Silver badge

              Re: and in the real world

              Caffeine is now excepted since it came out the Mormons own 5% of coke a cola

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: and in the real world

      and depending upon your physiology, you can fail a drugs test (morphine) from eating two Poppy Seed covered toasted bagels in the morning.

      Don't worry people, your Spy TV/Echo/Bixby in the corner will ensure that your Employer (aka Big Bro) knows how much you are eating and drinking when you are at home. They will make sure that you are tested before you leave home for work. Can't have any liability falling on the Dear Employer now can we?

      This, you understand, is a purely interim measure. You job will be replaced by robots/A.I. within 5 years. Then you won't be needed at all.

    4. Andrew Moore

      Re: and in the real world

      I would also increase the number of tests on a person if they had already previously tested positive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: and in the real world

        >I would also increase the number of tests on a person if they had already previously tested positive.

        Depending on the job, the number of tests after a positive would be zero as they would no longer be employed...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and in the real world

      .... we get tested EVERY day. - plus for-cause and incident investigations. Not to mention random saliva and urine drug testing from both employer and client.

      The system to not get caught is to not to consume - or know how much you can consume and metabolise safely.

      At a previous workplace, where they were struggling to keep hold of employees, testing was carried out late in the day, a week into the swing and with the intent of not catching anyone.

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Unhappy

    260 working days per year

    Do those poor bastards not have public holidays?

    1. Andrew Moore

      Re: 260 working days per year

      I'm guessing "America"

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: 260 working days per year

        Hold my beer - South Korea

      2. The Man Who Fell To Earth
        WTF?

        Re: 260 working days per year

        Clearly not "France", "Italy" or "Spain", as the number is non-zero.

        1. Uffish

          Re: 0 working days per year

          @The Man Who Fell To Earth

          Can't comment with any accuracy on non-working practices in Italy or Spain but you are dead right about France. I was employed in France for 30 years, only went in to the office for the jokes and the croissants, salary ok and to top it off I'm now retired on a decent pension*.

          The joke is on you.

          * My UK pension is spent in the UK, it provides pocket money for holidays.

      3. xXSwolGunzXx

        Re: 260 working days per year

        Nah it's typically 10 holidays and then 2-4 weeks of PTO, sometimes split up into vacation/sick. Except for the companies that provide "unlimited" vacation. At my current job, after totaling up holidays, vacation, sick, personal days, and volunteer days, a work year is 225 days.

  4. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Precision

    "The cumulative probability of getting away with it twice is 0.95 x 0.95 = 0.90 (actually 0.91 if you use greater precision)."

    No.

    At two significant figures of precision, it's either 0.90 or 0.91 You could claim 0.9 and 0.91 to different levels of precision, but when you show that trailing 0, you are showing that you are being precise to that level.

    Besides: 0.95*0.95 = 0.9025 which doesn't round to 0.91 at any precision.

    If you use (248/260)*(247/260) for full precision, that comes out as 0.906154 which may be where you get your 0.91 from, but the article doesn't make that clear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Precision

      You forgot the icon for the pedant, but thumb up as the article was attempting to make the point of doing things properly.

    2. DJ Smiley

      Re: Precision

      "Besides: 0.95*0.95 = 0.9025 which doesn't round to 0.91 at any precision.

      If you use (248/260)*(247/260) for full precision, that comes out as 0.906154 which may be where you get your 0.91 from, but the article doesn't make that clear."

      " which doesn't round to 0.91 at any precision"

      So does it, or not

    3. Cronus
      FAIL

      Re: Precision

      I'm confused by your comment.

      Firstly, your calculation looks wrong to me it should be (248/260) * (247/259) which comes out to 0.909652 which rounded to two decimal places is indeed 0.91

      Lastly, when I read the author saying it was 0.91 with greater precision I naturally assumed he meant with all calculations up to that point using greater precision. I don't know how else you could read it since he obviously isn't adding extra precision to the result of 0.95 * 0.95.

  5. jmch Silver badge
    Pint

    First test

    "We are testing 52 times a year. What are the chances that, on the first day we perform the test, the person will be sober? "

    If the first day the test is performed is the first working day of the ear, th echances are pretty low I would say :)

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: First test

      ... the first working day of the ear, th echances are pretty low...

      Pissed again? Watch out for the tester.

  6. Ben Bonsall

    What's the probablility of being fired after being caught drunk the first time?

    1. EddieD

      Depends what you do for a living:-

      Bus driver - 100%

      Banker - 0%

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I work in an office that, among other things, is currently doing civil engineering design work for a rail project.

        Train drivers must be dry, obviously, but there are no train drivers on the design team, and none of us will ever go near a train as anything other than a passenger. However, everyone working on the project must be dry, as a condition of the contract.

        Rail projects are funny.

        1. Ben Bonsall

          Really? I thought they must have been pissed when they came up with HS2...

        2. StewartR

          Re: Rail projects are funny

          "Train drivers must be dry, obviously, but there are no train drivers on the design team, and none of us will ever go near a train as anything other than a passenger. However, everyone working on the project must be dry, as a condition of the contract."

          Yep. It's been that way since 1991. There was a fatal buffer stop crash at Cannon Street caused by the driver not braking properly. The driver tested positive for cannabis three days later, though it was impossible to determine whether and if so to what extent that might have contributed to the crash. Nevertheless the Chairman of British Rail, Bob Reid II, brought in an immediate ban on the use of drugs and other substances which could impair concentration, including alcohol. Obviously the new rules could have just been applied to drivers and other safety critical workers such as signallers, but Reid thought it wasn't fair to insist that drivers couldn't have a lunchtime pint whilst managers and executives, including himself, still could. So the entire organisation went dry, overnight, right from the very top down. And after British Rail was broken up by the privatisation process, all its successor companies inherited the same policy.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Devil

        Depends what you do for a living:-

        Bus driver - 100%

        Banker - 0%

        Home Secretary - Mandatory for the Job*. so -100%

        *Or so it seems

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Depends what you do for a living:-

          "Home Secretary - Mandatory for the Job"

          You say that, but I can't imagine May drinking booze. The blood of the unrighteous perhaps, but not booze.

          1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

            Re: Depends what you do for a living:-

            She has to top up her ant-freeze and motor oil once is a while however

          2. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Depends what you do for a living:-

            May.

            Wine drinker I suspect, probably red wine.

            1. D@v3

              Re: @MJI

              or Gin. Neat.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    A certain bias, there

    "It assumes [..] that an employee is coming in with alcohol in their system (drunk) 12 times in a working year."

    If you have one glass of wine with your noon meal, you do have alcohol in your system. You are not necessarily drunk, though.

    What this means is that it is apparently considered that 0% is the only acceptable percentage of alcohol in the blood in a working environment. Seems a tad draconian to me, but I'm French, so . .

    On the other hand, any level of alcohol when coming in to work in the morning is obviously unacceptable because it means that the person has been drinking on the way to work, which is a clear sign that they need professional help and cannot function normally.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: A certain bias, there

      The way I heard it, if you have more than four pints of an evening, you're risking being over the drink drive limit in the morning.

      So if you have four pints the night before, you will have alcohol in your system, just not enough to lose your driving license over.

      ( Whether that four pints is actually correct I'm not sure, but you get the picture )

      1. Andrew Moore

        Re: A certain bias, there

        Given that your liver should be able to clear one unit of alcohol per hour*, the 4 pints should be gone after 8 hours.

        *One-ish unit per hour- changes due to metabolism and/or gender.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: A certain bias, there

          A lot of beers are significantly more than 2 units/pint. Looking at a couple of bottles conveniently to hand, Glamorgan Welsh Pale at 4.3% is 2.2 units (for 500ml, so about 2.4 for a pint), and Three Tuns Old Scrooge at 6.5% is 3.3 (3.6 for a pint).

          But serious kudos (and concern for your liver) if you can manage 4 pints of Old Scrooge in an evening! You'll still be showing the effects at lunchtime (if you make it out of bed)

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: A certain bias, there

            A lot of beers are significantly more than 2 units/pint.

            2 units/pint = 3.52% alcohol. Sessions beers were traditionally ~3%, most beers in my local are above 3.5, some considerably above.

          3. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: A certain bias, there

            But serious kudos (and concern for your liver) if you can manage 4 pints of Old Scrooge in an evening!

            Challenge accepted!

          4. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: A certain bias, there

            @Pen-y-gors:

            Five Paddles Mississippi Paddler @ 12.6%. Comes in *quart* bottles. Goes down a complete treat. Mistakenly had a bottle to hand one night whilst tanking -- the last half of the instance was a bit of a blur.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A certain bias, there

            A lot of beers are significantly more than 2 units/pint.

            "Snake Venom" from Scotland is supposedly 67.5%, so that's 36 units a pint?

        2. phr0g

          Re: A certain bias, there

          Correct, kind of. But that 8 hours assumes you drank all 4 pints at once.

          units of alcohol is about strength % * volume (in litres)

          So a metric pint (half litre) of 4% beer is 2 units.

          If you begin at at fairly normal 20:00, drink 4 pints between then and 00:00, that's already 2 of the pints gone from the system, the next 2 by 02:00. Driving to work the next day at 08:00 won't be an issue.

          (This is a rough estimate as it takes some time for your liver to start processing the alcohol obv.)

          In the UK, the drink driving limit, roughly, for a 12 stone man, is around 4 units, so you would unlikely be over the limit if you waited an hour or so after midnight and then drove (but I wouldn't recommend risking it).

          1. zappahey

            Re: A certain bias, there

            In the UK, the drink driving limit, roughly, for a 12 stone man, is around 4 units,

            Except for readers in Scotland.

    2. DJ Smiley
      Pint

      Re: A certain bias, there

      It takes me 10 minutes to get to work.

      I could easily down a Pint, come to work, still have it in my system.

      Nothing wrong with a Pint before work at 8am! ;)

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: A certain bias, there

        Always pour the beer the night before, that way it is flat and you can get it down your neck quicker in the morning.

    3. small and stupid

      Re: A certain bias, there

      Why privilege lunch over breakfast?

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not a beer drinker, so ..

      Wasn't aware that beer could have that kind of effect.

      So I have to amend my position on alcohol in the morning, since it could simply mean that you had "too much" the night before. I'm okay with that, although I will be encouraging you to drink lots of water during the day.

  8. DavCrav Silver badge

    The quick way is to do 1-(0.95)^52=0.93 (2 sig figs), which gets you almost exactly the right answer. That's how we were taught to do it in school for continuous events and adding probabilities. The extra accuracy you get by withdrawing balls gives you the correct answer, but the short form above works well, if the testing is still relatively infrequently.

    1. petethebloke

      Agreed. I think there might be other ways of getting the wrong answers in the table (from those suggested in the article) - they don't even follow a progression, which is odd. Monthly is the same as annual.

    2. felixk

      @DavCrav:

      > The quick way is to do 1-(0.95)^52=0.93 (2 sig figs),

      > which gets you almost exactly the right answer.

      No, it gets you exactly the right answer. The use of a hypergeometric distribution is technically correct (but only if the sot keeps track of how many times he's been drunk and stops after twelve such days); personally, I would apply a binomial distribution with a fixed probability of drunkenness on any one day of p=12/260, just as you did.

      The results are: P(X>=1) = 0.935646978954 for the hypergeometric case, P(X>=1) = 0.914321213168 for the binomial distribution. The commenter that decided that the result must round to 0.90 is living in a state of sin.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "No, it gets you exactly the right answer."

        It gets you the right answer, but to a different question. It gets you the right answer to the question "what is the chance of getting caught given that each day has a fixed probability of you being drunk", whereas the question was that in a given year there are exactly twelve drunk days, so it becomes a finite problem which needs finite methods rather than a continuous probability.

    3. AJames

      "Correct" method is slightly wrong

      I think your rough calculation is actually closer to correct, while the one given in the article is slightly wrong. This is not a case of "removing one ball from the bag" each time as the writer has assumed. In actuality it is likely that the probability of the employee being drunk on any given day is always 12/260, independent of any previous day. In other words, the employee decides on any given day "do I need a drink today?" depending on his or her current circumstances, and is not thinking "wait, I've already gone in to work drunk 5 times this year, so maybe not today.".

  9. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Counterproductive..

    If I were sober I wouldn't turn up.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Counterproductive..

      What wash the question again?

  10. Amorous Cowherder

    I think we accidentally get hung up on the pertinent request, "If I do something X times, what are the facts about X?". In this case we get caught up on getting to that magic fact being driven by the 52 times/year, the 4 times/year or twice a year and start from there. Just human nature I suppose to look for the quickest route through a problem rather than the correct logical route.

    The "bag of marbles" visual idea for probabilities takes me back to my school days and later on working through maths homework with my own kids. It's such a great little visual image that immediately registers with the imagination. Don't try to imagine an abstract idea of 12 days over 260 because you cannot be two mutually exclusive things at the same time ( drunk and sober ) , but imagine it's ( 260 = 12 + 248 ) , 12 red marbles and 248 green marbles. Immediately most people, even those who really struggle with maths, can visualise instantly and start to get a handle on probabilities. Oddly my imagined bag of marbles is always dark grey felt with a black draw cord, ha ha!!

    1. MrBanana

      It was always different coloured socks in a drawer for me.

      1. Bill Gray

        Socks in a drawer

        I've long tended to grab two socks from the drawer in the morning without really checking to see if they match. SWMBO objected to this behavior. I caved in (always a good idea on minor issues; choose one's battles carefully, etc.) and have since taken a moment or two to ensure a match. But I did explain to her that my previous behavior was just in memory of (seemingly countless) probability problems as a lad such as:

        Eddie has five red socks, three black socks, and two white socks. If Eddie grabs two socks in the morning at random, what's the probability that he'll grab two socks that match?

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Socks in a drawer

          After a few days, zero.

          Socks ever match once they've been washed a few times.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Socks in a drawer

          Mine is 100% because they are paired.

          2 sets of 7 pairs of day socks

          1 pair of Minion

          A few colourful pairs.

          Thick comfy socks.

  11. jake Silver badge

    Let's be real here.

    If one of my employees shows up obviously under the influence, I'll show them the door. It's that simple, and they know it. They have the option of taking a blood test immediately after being fired, and I'll deal with the consequences if I'm wrong. Thankfully I have never needed to resort to this ... But that's not to say I'll fire 'em if they have booze on their breath. I operate a small brewery, winery, and fledgling distillery. Almost all of my employees have access to, and in some cases are required to sample the product ... Either you trust your employees, or you don't. If you don't, get rid of them. Makes life much easier all around.

    1. Buzzword

      Re: Let's be real here.

      It's not always obvious though. Can you tell the difference between someone who is still drunk from the night before, and someone who has a cold? What if they simply haven't slept properly because of external factors (heat wave, noisy neighbours, etc.)?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Let's be real here.

        Buzzword, I'm fairly certain I can tell the difference. My velcro-whippet certainly can. I'll make the call if/when. And as I said, if I'm wrong I'll face the consequences.

        Hasn't happened yet. Somehow, I doubt it will ever be an issue. Not with this crew; they've all been with me for nearly two decades, and all have a piece of the holding company.

        1. DJ Smiley

          Re: Let's be real here.

          Ok but what if they show up exhausted, because they have kids and they were up all night screaming?

          My point is, that the effect on their work from exhaustion is the same as that of being drunk.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Let's be real here.

            DJ, no it's not. I can tell the difference. So can my velcro-whippet.

            As I said, I'll face the consequences if it ever happens. I'm cool with that.

            1. frank ly

              @jake Re: Let's be real here.

              Does your velcro-whippet stick to them if they're alcohol impaired?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's be real here.

        Can you tell the difference between someone who is still drunk from the night before, and someone who has a cold? What if they simply haven't slept properly because of external factors (heat wave, noisy neighbours, etc.)?

        Yes, because of the smell of ethanol coming from their skin pores.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Let's be real here.

      "If one of my employees shows up obviously under the influence, I'll show them the door. It's that simple, and they know it. They have the option of taking a blood test immediately after being fired, and I'll deal with the consequences if I'm wrong."

      If you are in the lovely US in one of those at will states then fine, but in the UK you would be in court pretty quickly with that kind of approach.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's be real here.

        I want to know what the odds are of someone saying 'Velcro-Whippet' twice in one thread...

    3. MrBanana

      Re: Let's be real here.

      Instant dismissal isn't really necessary. When coming back from a liquid lunch, and having been judged to have forgotten how to count above two pints, my manager would meet me at the office door and offer me a pen and an instant, one day, holiday request form. Then off home. It was usually worth it. Fighting in the car park optional.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Let's be real here.

        I've been at places where when we know we are doing a lunchtime celebration then the network access is revoked in advance. I've also been on lunch celebrations where the boss decided it would be better for people to go straight home from the pub rather than be let loose on the IT systems.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's be real here.

        my manager would meet me at the office door and offer me a pen and an instant, one day, holiday request form. Then off home. It was usually worth it. Fighting in the car park optional.

        Shrewd manager. He gets half a day of work for you for free!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Team goes out on first wednesday night of each month for a "team building exercise" in local pubs/clubs and employees come in drunk ont the day after every month. Company does weekly alcohol screening on tuesdays. Probability of being caught 0%.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ha, we have a rule for company lunches that you can only drink if your manager is present to approve the expense (even if we are paying.) Which often means he can't drink as his manager isn't present. So he drives. it's win-win.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a version of the birthdays question.

    How many people do you have to have in a room before there is a greater than 1 in 2 chance that 2 of them have the same birthday?

    People tend to guess a number around 183, but the same logic as the drunk testing applies and the answer is in the low 20s. (It is not exactly as calculated because there tend to be more births at certain times of year.)

    1. Andrew Moore

      Re: It's a version of the birthdays question.

      23- it's based on the total number of pairs there are in the room.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: It's a version of the birthdays question.

        If birthdays are evenly distributed throughout the year. In the UK, 26th September is the most common birthday, and that is the most likely birth date from a Christmas session.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: most likely birth date from a Christmas session

          Ah. Christmas comes but once a year.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: most likely birth date from a Christmas session

            and clearly so do a lot of fathers..

            I am of course referring to Father Christmas - your minds....!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: most likely birth date from a Christmas session

              But when he does, he fills your stockings to overflowing.

  14. HmmmYes Silver badge

    Hmm. Overthinking it a bit.

    My one and only experience of a drunk at work goes back to my first job in the early 90s.

    The 'drink because my wife and kids have left me because I moved the family from <somewhere nice> to Bracknell' rolled in at 3pm, fell asleep, then stood up and peed in his top desk drawer.

    Sitewide no boozing at work policy the next week.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Drunk and sleeping at desk - sad.

      Peeing in desk drawer - Class!

      1. Little Mouse

        A clearly-defined keyboard imprint in your forehead is not an easy look to carry off at work.

        <cough!> Apparently.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Round our way we call that qwerty-face

          1. electricmonk

            Shouldn't that be ytrewq-face?

    2. Mark York 3 Silver badge
      Pint

      "The 'drink because my wife and kids have left me because I moved the family from <somewhere nice> to Bracknell'"

      Bracknell = RACAL perchance.

      "rolled in at 3pm, fell asleep, then stood up and peed in his top desk drawer." = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNFz0hkPXvA

      There was a similar sort of Christmas party at RACAL Seaton (Before I joined), there was sex under benches & all sorts of celebrations on return from the pub\in house supplied booze, following year Management wizened up & no such celebrations took place, they just kicked us out at lunchtime & we went straight to The George instead.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Idiots

    We know they test once a week. Wait sober until they test, and drink until the weekend. Probability of being caught 0!

    Alternatively, it's almost certain that the boss will have been seduced by sales spiel into buying the latest fanciest internet connected alcohol testing machine. Even the greenest PFY should be able to insert the 'if dept = IT then alcohol = random number between totally sober and reasonably sober' into the code. Or maybe the simpler 'if dept = HR then alcohol = embarrassingly pissed'

    And pedantically, assuming that the employee's drinking is reasonably spread your green and red balls are a bit skewed - (I think - of course last night's bender might be clouding my judgement), because while in week 1 you may have 248 red 12 green, but week 2 we should be calculating 243 red 11.75 green, - the odds of being caught aren't changing any more than the odds of throwing a coin change? Your numbers assume that if I was sober on test 1 the chances of me being sober on test 2 are slightly less, effectively assuming that there are still 12 drunk balls, but now 247 sober ones.

    I think it was just a poorly labelled table and the best way of thinking about it is there's a 12/260 chance that I'm drunk on a given day and a 52/260 chance that I will be tested on a given day

    so for a given day the probability of getting away with it = 0.04 * 0.2 = 0.009 as it was in the table

    They just forgot that I come to work 260 days a year (for which I'd need to be on something) so

    260*0.009 = 2.4, a 240% chance of being busted. That empirically feels right, If I do something where i have a 20% chance of being caught 12 times in a row, I'm going to get caught.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Idiots

      What this of course proves, is that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

      If the question is not specific, or is open to interpretation almost anything can be proved...

      This is indeed how politicians justify their random meanderings...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Course I'm drunk at work....

    ..how the hell else do I suffer this existence.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Course I'm drunk at work....

      I don't advise it. Even the wankers on the site wouldn't drink that, that's worse than meths.

      Nonsense. This is a far superior drink to meths. The wankers don't drink it because they can't afford it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Course I'm drunk at work....

      You joke, but when you daily have to deal with a so called "manager" who can't get through the day without an extended liquid lunch, it soon becomes tiresome!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Course I'm drunk at work....

        My first manager (and also the HR and catering managers) spent every lunchtime in the bar (3-4 pints daily), and had a bottle of whiskey in his desk. I don't think he ever drove home sober after work...

  17. Velv Silver badge
    Pint

    Define "drunk" :)

    Back in the early 90's a company I worked for had a policy. The actual wording was "you must not attend work drunk to the extent of being incapable". Left quite a lot of scope for a pint or three at lunchtime (and to be fair there was no risk of working with alcohol in the system other than not getting the work done).

  18. katrinab Silver badge

    Another thing you forgot

    If you test every day, employees will probably modify their behaviour so they don't get caught, or find another job.

    1. Sykowasp

      Re: Another thing you forgot

      Indeed. Assuming testing first thing in the morning (before you drive your train/bus/lorry into people), you will merely ensure not being too tipsy for these activities at that time.

      Which leads to inevitable lunchtime drinks, and afternoon drinks, and then getting home and not drinking, because you've got to get your liver to process six pints in the next twelve hours.

      This is actually a far better way to do drinking than the British 'neck a load in the evening until 1am' methodology, that guarantees a nasty hangover the next day.

  19. Christoph Silver badge

    the more frequently you test, the higher the chance of catching the miscreant pissing off all your staff.

    Fixed it for you.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I missing something?

    So taking the bag of marbles example, if I'm being tested once a week then for the first test there are 248 green marbles and 12 red marbles, (total 260), but on the 2nd test there will be 5 days (assumign 5 working day week) less surely - not 1x less? (and dont get me started on how we work out how many green/how many red we need to take out)

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Am I missing something?

      "but on the 2nd test there will be 5 days (assumign 5 working day week) less surely - not 1x less? (and dont get me started on how we work out how many green/how many red we need to take out)"

      I think I convinced myself that summing over all possibilities for removing n balls at random for varying n gives you the same answer as if you just remove a single green ball. I didn't prove it, but that's because I couldn't be bothered.

    2. D@v3

      Re: Am I missing something? (I am most definately not a mathmatician)

      I'm surprised it took till page 3 for me to find someone else saying this, specifically, how do you know (apart from on day 1) how many red balls are in there?

      Every day, someone takes out 1 ball, but you don't know what colour it is. so there is a possibility that after say, 15 days, all 12 red have been taken out, but because they were removed on non test days, you have no idea. As the tester, every day (whether you are testing or not) there are between 0-12 red balls in the bag.

      As others have said, there is a chance that people are coming in drunk on consecutive days, so that could be two or three reds in a row, which would increase the immediate chance of getting caught, but in the long term it would decrease it (which i guess balances out?)

      i think I'm getting carried away here because it's Friday morning and I'm full of caffeine, but, with the 'balls test' (in this case) surely the correct way to conduct it, is for two people to be involved, one (the 'drunk', chooses a ball from the bag, and keeps it to them selves, unless the other person (the 'tester') asks them what it is, repeat until either the bag is empty or the 'drunk' gets caught.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm never drunk...

    ...just relaxed.

    A/C because I am at worked and have just entered a state of private relaxation privately in a meeting room with three stiff G&Ts.

  22. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Pint

    No testing required

    The probability of me being drunk tonight after I finish my fear, frustration, disgust, and despair-inducing day at work today approaches 100%. (I also have a funeral to go to today)

    At work? Nah. I like to be sober during the day just to mix things up a bit. Unless you count our company picnic..

  23. Tom Melly

    Yes, I was advised to use this approach when calculating the chance of two people in a room of twenty sharing a birthday. It's almost impossible (well, lot's of increasingly tedious fractions) to calculate the chance of it happening, but the chance of it not happening is a lot easier.

  24. andy 103
    Mushroom

    It's always 50%

    The chance of anything happening - being caught on a given day or not - is that it will either happen, or it won't. Some might say that's 50:50, or 50%. These people are known as dicks.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's easy spotting the drunk at work, it's the one stuck in the photocopier who's had a nasty accident and waiting for the paramedics to attend after a foolish attempt to make copies of their privates.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alcohol, never touch the stuff as I can't afford both a drink problem and a coke problem. Mind you I could always ask the boss for a pay rise, they're a piss can so might be sympathetic.

  27. MJI Silver badge
    Pint

    Too many numbers

    It is pub o'clock

    Out of here

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real probability

    I was recently faced with the prospect of signing a contract that insisted I take part in the company's testing policy, even though I work for myself.

    No amount of negotiating got them to budge, and I was on the verge of rejecting the contract (out of principle you understand) when I decided to read the full policy in detail.

    Turns out the selection process is based on

    1. Location

    2. A list of the people signed in using their access card that morning at that location

    3. A random selection of the people from the list.

    Since I work remotely, and when I do go to the main office I have to sign in as a guest (I have no access card) there is no chance of me appearing on the list in #2, so probability of being tested = 0.

    So I signed the contract :)

  30. TheProf
    Angel

    Plan

    So....If I wait until I've been tested and then get very, very, drunk, what are the chances of me being caught the next day??

    If it helps your calculations:

    1: I'm drunk now. 3 pints of 4.5% real ale at lunchtime.

    2: Yes I do appear to be a lightweight but I could drink a lot more if I wanted.

    3: But only if I eat more than a piece of toast for breakfast.

    4: I think I'll have pie and chips for tea.

    5: That's northern tea at 6pm not the confused southern 'tea' which is actually dinner. Or lunch. Brunch?

    6: What was the question again?

    7: Hang on ! I don't even have a job! I could be rat-arsed anytime I want!!!

  31. Edwin

    You're all missing the point!

    Who is this company and how can we ridicule them?

  32. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    0.90 vs 90%

    My guess is that they've correctly calculated that the probability is 0.90, and then just written 0.90% without multiplying by 100.

  33. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Simple logic

    We cannot know what logic allowed the producers of the table to arrive at the incorrect value of 0.9 per cent

    Here's the logic: the producers of the table are marketers who know fuck all about probability but plenty about how to persuade companies to sign up for the highly-profitable daily testing regime.

  34. katrinab Silver badge

    I ran it using my calculations and got the following:

    Test once per year - 4.62%

    Test twice per year - 9.02%

    Test every month - 43.28%

    Test every week - 91.43%

    Test every day - 99.9995%

    The assumption I made is that every day, there is a 12/260 probability that they will go in drunk, and that each day, the probability of going in drunk is not determined by how many times they have gone in drunk so far in the year, so there is a very small chance that they might go a whole year without getting drunk.

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Discrete verses continuous

      "The assumption I made is that every day, there is a 12/260 probability that they will go in drunk, and that each day, the probability of going in drunk is not determined by how many times they have gone in drunk so far in the year, so there is a very small chance that they might go a whole year without getting drunk."

      This has been answered above, it's the difference between continuous probability (as you used) and discrete probability, which is what the assumptions given in the article.

      You are also correct that continuous is, for most practical purposes, a better model. But you pick your model based on other needs. The answers are also pretty much the same, apart from daily being 1 rather than almost 1 :)

      The assumptions are that the worker is drunk, is testable as drunk, etc for exactly 12 out of 260 days each year. If they have been drunk at work for 12 days, they stop turning up at work drunk.

  35. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    As posted above

    I *think* the more logical explanation for the numbers is that a couple of marketers have had a whack at it.

    So the *method* for the numbers I believe is

    1. Correct finite probabilty calculations have been done, as in the article.

    2. It's put in a nice table.

    3. It's easy to understand, but it doesn't really sell the product anyway more than common sense will

    4. This is bad. Lets edit those numbers

    5. OK, first off, bollocks to this 0-1 range. Percentage. 1 = 100% = the best. That goes in first

    6. Working backwards, 0.94, that rounds to 0.9, whack a percentage in front and we're done. Wait, percentage at the back. 0.94 = 0.9%. Good job my bonus math is better huhuhhuh.

    7. OK, 0.43 that rounds to 0.4, thus 0.4%. Bit high, boss wants to push the weekly test kits. Halve it. 0.43 = 0.2%

    8. Allright, lets not reinvent the wheel. halve, round down and percentagise those last buggers.

    There we go, conveys the correct "sales story" and explains why anyone could come up with those numbers. I feel the author was too charitable in their assessment of where the "figures" came from.

    It's data so badly faked it wouldn't fool an accountant. It's almost funny how bad it is at actually selling the product. One hopes that someone got paid a lot of money to say "multiply by 100, put a percentage at the end", in an expensive advertisement for paying attention at school.

  36. Crisp Silver badge
    Pint

    If we accept this article as true, then how does the BOFH still have a job?

    See title.

    1. Steven Burn

      Re: If we accept this article as true, then how does the BOFH still have a job?

      Easy - he tells the testers he is next to the open window with the unmentioned shoving ram ;)

  37. harmjschoonhoven
    Thumb Up

    A good stategy

    The old Tartars made their battle plans in two stages. First completely drunk at which stage all kind of silly suggestions were made. The next day when they were sobered up they made the real battle plan. It seemed to have served them well.

  38. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Advanced testing

    I was informed by a colleague in Canada, that the company had sensors down at one highly state of the art US site, that was able to detect what you had imbibed\inhaled & to what extent in the past 48 hours before you even swiped into the plants turnstiles.

  39. Colin Tree

    100 %

    Friday afternoon after a pub lunch, you look drunk.

    100 % probability you will be tested positive.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More efficient method

    Flicker fusion challenge via random phone selection (at 1+ hour from start time).

    Non discriminatory, if someone is tired, drunk, has severe 'flu etc they are politely asked not come in until better.

    Also helps reduce incidences of people crashing their cars due to working three jobs or ridiculous hours (it happens!) and everyone benefits.

    I did wonder if the adding of IR thermometers to phones might reduce seasonal illnesses as a temperature is often an early sign of influenza and Norwalk aka winter vomiting bug.

  41. Hairy Airey

    But what day is the testing?

    Are we assuming that the weekly test is the same day of the week, or evenly distributed throughout the year?

    Does the person come in drunk on a Monday only or are they an alcoholic that comes in drunk 4 days a week (ie Mon-Thu) 3 times a year? If the testing is every Friday neither will get caught.

    There's not enough data to give an accurate result.

    Says the guy who has just drunk two glasses of prosecco at work (with permission!) and it's gone to his head.

    John

  42. Steven Burn

    Quite a few of us used to go in to work quite drunk (we had a a bar on site), straight after lunch (did I mention the bar on site? (50p per pint!!!)). Alas it got to a point (not surprisingly), that some (myself included) were far beyond drunk and into holy shit, he's completely pissed!!! territory (work from home now, and pace myself (I'm an old git now)).

    Not something I'm proud of, but testing wouldn't have helped (I did mention the bar on site, right? (disappeared not long after myself and a few others were fired for being shitfaced after lunch, from what I heard (not surprisingly))), limiting how much the bar would sell you, or a strict "look you can have have this much as the on-site or off-site bar", would've) - yes, I was young and stupid - weren't we all?

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