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Comment: Prostitutes v Co-eds (Score 1) 295

Prostitutes:coeds as taxis:uber brbr One tries to be sustainable, the other lives outside the economically sustainable boundary by not keeping itself fully accountable for the total cost of operations. The establishment lament is "how can we make a living when the tyros are giving it away below cost"? The tyros retort? Your place or mine?

Comment: N=1 (Score 1) 1037

We statisticians refer to anecdotes as non-random samples of size N=1.

Completely and totally worthless. Actually, not worthless (value 0), they are worth-negative, as they actually prevent good decision making.

And as Kahneman and Tversky discussed, the availability heuristic and the ease of remembering the outliers makes for very bad decision making. This is exacerbated by the modern un-filtered news system (aka, "the web" cross the "infotainment industry"). This warped noise delivery system, masquerading as "news you need to know" results in a really bad decision making process. Modern medicine (where I worked as a statistician) is unable to help with this extra-scientific process.

Comment: Re:give Peace a Chance (Score 1) 129

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48565495) Attached to: Stealthy Linux Trojan May Have Infected Victims For Years
Because in the end, someone has to be as powerful as the most powerful state we might logically fear. Right now that is the Russians (simple tanks and bombs), the Chinese (economic warfare), and the Islamofascists (intent). Of these, we cannot afford to fight the Chinese, we are not the bleeding edge in defending against the Russians, and we might be able to defeat the Islamofascists here at home using ideas, not so sure about in other countries.

But the old days of raising armies only when needed has gone the way of the horse and buggy. Unless you are the Swiss, who count on others to provide defacto long-arm defense, you probably cannot count on an armed population either ("Red Dawn not withstanding)

Comment: Methods and mileage may vary. (Score 1) 767

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48565389) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations
But in the end, whether it is a Catholic inquisition or a CIA operative is less material than why it is done. We should not simply scream

"do no torture on my behalf",

we should perhaps scream

I am willing to let X=8,143 people a year die from terrorist attacks rather than use torture

The number 8,143 is what we are arguing about.

The CIA thinks X is something small, like 1 child or 3 innocent adults.

The rest of us must think X is closer to 1M. Interestingly, it is the scientific humanists among us who claim X=Inf, even though they do not have a moral compass like the church telling them that. More proof that it does not take a religion to make one moral.

+ - Outlaw Puns? What pun is that? 1

Submitted by FreedomFirstThenPeac
FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "A story in The Guardian tells us that in an Orwellian-like move to legislate language, the Chinese are attempting to stop the use of puns because they are disruptive and may lead to chaos (not the mathematical kind) and as such are unsuitable for use. However, Chinese is rife with puns, with this example quoted in the story

When couples marry, people will give them dates and peanuts – a reference to the wish Zaosheng guizi or “May you soon give birth to a son”. The word for dates is also zao and peanuts are huasheng

The powerful date and peanut lobbies are up in arms, claiming that such a ban will cost them more than peanuts. Their claim? "If you outlaw puns. Only criminals will have puns.""

Comment: Re:Federal law has an effect, too (Score 1) 413

A real analysis of correlations would have to include not only the party of the Executive branch, but also the parties in the House and Senate. At a minimum. But Attila Dimedici's points are still well noted. Another "Inconvenient Truth" kept out of the minds of the people. Not unlike people who would point to Washington DC's abysmal schools and note that it has been a Democratic city since way back. Forbes has an interesting article on this

The most fundamental difference between the data that conservatives prefer—that the 10 poorest cities are longtime Democratic strongholds—and the data that liberals will be more inclined to cite—that the 10 poorest states are predominantly Republican, is that conservatives can point to actual policies that Democrats implemented that contributed to the impoverishment of the cities, while the liberals cannot point to specific GOP policies that have caused the poorer states to lag behind.

The Democratic case is illusory and circumstantial; the Republican case is solid and substantial. However, in a country where so many people are economically and historically illiterate, combined with the human proclivity whereby “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” (Paul Simon, “The Boxer”), the Democrats may be able to score some points with a hollow argument. The Republicans, though, have the facts on their side.

Ref: Are the 10 Poorest States Really Republican

How can we argue with an author who quotes Paul Simon?

Comment: Barbarians at the eGates. (Score 1) 436

Civilization and civilized behavior has always been more about the social contracts (as in implied) than the legal contracts (as in laws). What makes my small town more comfortable, than the big town I winter in, is the social contract we all share and impose primarily through shame and shun. The Internet and global culture have revealed the weakness in social normative pressures when anonymity meets cultural relativism. The copy-paste examples are more noteworthy for the fact that copy-paste mentality overridesany social normative pressures we might exert. Yes, copy-paste examples abound, but do I just copy them and claim immunity from social pressures? I could copy-paste one word and a time and stand "immune" because I did not pen them myself?

We are in a dark cave, the wumpus is loose, and the only people with lights are lying religious fanatics whose reason is their sacred writings and whose swords are, more rapidly than we might wish, the actual swords they raise against the unbelievers. Chop. Chop.

(Footnote: I believe in the 2nd amendment not because I can expect to win but rather because I can expect to make it a little more expensive for the eventual winners.)

Comment: Why apartheid "worked", why the Shah "worked", ... (Score 1) 481

Why apartheid "worked", why the Shah "worked", why Christianity "worked".

It is really too bad when science comes down on the side of the iron fist, but the studies show over and over that justice requires peace, and peace requires trust, and diversity reduces the social capital necessary to assure trust.

On the other hand, who wants to live under ISIL or similar diversity busting regimes? But one of the first prerequisites for a peaceful society appears to be a shared culture first, at least with respect to how people treat each other. It would be nice if we could use clothing to mark culture, so that when I see someone wearing a hoodie I could KNOW that indicated a peace-monger, but it just is not so, any more than someone wearing a sash with a swastika is identifying themselves as a keeper of the word of gawd.

The question has to be, how to get social capital higher and the science appears to suggest homogeneity. I don't like that answer, any more than I liked it when simulations showed "tit-for-tat" was the preferred strategy in cooperative games. I don't like that I cannot just flap my arms and fly either, but at some level all of these findings are our realities.

Comment: Re:Jargon (Score 1) 111

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48420835) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question
It does to people who view the world through a specific jargon. I would prefer to read good cosmology with math to help my understanding, but that market is pretty small compared to simplistic "analogies" that feed and nurture the the public discourse. For an example, run down the virtual particle discussions until you finally get to the one (and it was deep when I found it) that explains that the classical virtual particles as used to explain Hawking radiation are not the virtual particles of the foundational theory, so a lot of effort gets expended trying to explain amateur "what ifs" that are founded on this simplistic analogy. Trust me, I sometime try to express my semi-naive questions knowing that what I really need to do is run down the equations and see if my question is a function of the popularizing analogies, or is it truly answerable (and needing said answer) in the mathematics.?

So, yes, popular jargon sells more books, why oh why are you surprised?

Comment: Left-Right dichotomy vs Compass (Score 1) 111

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48420737) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question
As a statistician, I am seriously annoyed with the usual Left-Right dichotomy we see in most press articles. While I like the Political Compass I am a bit nervous of their clustering algorithm, and the questions they use to feed the analytics. Even more interesting is Johathan Haidt who has achieved some TEDTalk fame describing a five-dimensional feature space (though he does try to reduce to two clusters - liberals and conservatives). So I pose a two part question, (1) do you think the public discourse is hampered by the popular press always reducing politicians and voters to "liberals" and "conservatives"? And if you are concerned, (2) what can we do to push back against such simplifications, especially here on Slashdot?

I've got all the money I'll ever need if I die by 4 o'clock. -- Henny Youngman