Category Archives: probability

Australia’s Gun Control Laws Probably Worked

There’s an odd article in the Washington Post by Leah Libresco, formerly of 538, that says: I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. … Continue reading

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Reflections on Faith

I’ve written about faith before. I even wrote a poem about it. But a friend’s comments the other day suggested a refinement in how I talk about faith. I’m very slow at these things so I often need to come … Continue reading

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Statistical Effect of Block Voting

Will block voting result in poor election predictions? The left-wing political organization LeadNow is running what appears to be a pretty effective campaign to organize voter blocks in swing ridings, where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are at risk of winning due … Continue reading

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Opinions, Judgements and the Bayesian Revolution

This article on what it means to “have an opinion” is not bad, but it muddles two fundamentally different types of “opinion” and as such fails to get at the root of the problem, and misses important ideas about diversity … Continue reading

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Narrative Predictions

The human brain is a machine for leaping to conclusions in a single bound. Activists and political agitators of every stripe use this to promote their nonsense by putting together narratives that appeal to our conclusion-jumping reflex. “Chemicals” are frequently … Continue reading

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Ockham\’s Razor is a Special Case of Bayes\’ Rule

William of Ockham was an English cleric who eponymous principle of logic looms large in far too much of what passes for “debate” on the Internet. People who deploy Ockham’s razor never seem to stop and and wonder why they … Continue reading

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Fear in a Time of Ebola

I’ve seen a number of people in the past few days attempting to spread fear about the possibility of Ebola “becoming airborne” and thought it worth saying a few words about that. Although I’m a physicist by education, I’ve spent … Continue reading

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Sampling Fossils

Sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s I read an article in Nature that argued we should expect “first discovery” dates in the sciences that involve digging up fossils to take periodic leaps backward. The argument is compelling: because … Continue reading

Posted in bayes, evolution, history, probability, software | 2 Comments

Even More Things that Are Not Arguments

Canada is sending about 600 members of the RCAF and a dozen aircraft of various types to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces in their war with ISIS. Here are some things that are not arguments: 1) “ISIS are EVIL! They … Continue reading

Posted in epistemology, ethics, history, politics, probability, psychology, war | 1 Comment

How Much Information Does Your MP Contain?

Canada is supposed to be a representative democracy, not a democratic oligarchy. “Oligo” is a prefix that means “few”, from the Greek word ολιγος, which means “few”. In an oligarchy, a small number of people–we’ll call them “party leaders” for … Continue reading

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