Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On Fevered Temperature Measurements

Let me apologize in advance for the brevity of today's post.  You'll see very shortly that I've been a bit under the weather the last few days.  It's the very fact that I've been on and off bedridden with fever that got me to thinking about temperature and thermometers.

Specifically, I've been wondering how accurate any readings of my temperature have been.

Over the course of an hour or so (I've been a bit bored), I took thirty measurements of my temperature to see just how much any one of those measurements got it right.

Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

To go back to last week, the mean and median are both 100.8, and the mode is 100.7.  The standard deviation, or the average amount that any given measurement deviates from the mean, is around .6. 

That means that the 95% confidence interval around my presumed actual temperature of somewhere around 100.8 is actually 99.6 to 102.0!

So, I guess my thermometer could be a bit more accurate.  In fact, it's really quite poor.  


  1. Did you take into account physiological change? It's theoretically possible that your body actually did fluctuate a couple degrees within the hour depending on other variables? We need some control condition here to test the accuracy in a more controlled temperature setting.

    1. No, I didn't. I was sick.

      It would be interesting to do at a time when I had reason to believe that my temperature should be a lot more stable. Like any time other than when I did it, really.