WM Briggs, the Statistician to the Stars!

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WM Briggs, the Statistician to the Stars!



Lesson 8: What Probability Is 1.

We start by answering an excellent question.

Anon asks:

"I have a question about Bayes' Theorem and philosophical arguments. I ask because I have a broad scholastic approach to philosophy that relies metaphysical demonstrations.

"Is the contrast between probabilistic vs deductive arguments unhelpful? It seems like deductive arguments mask the uncertainty of probable premises. If each premise of an eight-step argument is 95%, the lower bound would be 66% (given independence).

"For some reason, this doesn't sit right with me. Bayes' Theorem seems useful for when deciding theories within the world, but not applicable to first principles (like the reality of change). But I don't have much of a mathematical background. Any assistance you can provide would be extremely welcome."

This leads us to show probability, being logic, doesn't care about the premises. Just about the CONNECTIONS between premises and the proposition of interest.


All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51635/

Permanent class page: https://www.wmbriggs.com/class/

Lesson 7: Logic Intuition Check.

I'm starting to get some good questions. Some of them by folks who have clearly had training in probability and physics before.

These people will have the most difficult time following this Class.

For the very excellent reason that we, all of us, when confronted with new information seek to put it into buckets in our mind, if you will, buckets which we have formed over many years. This is entirely natural, and even helpful.

Unless those buckets are the wrong shape. Which if you have had training about "random variables", "p-values", and the like, are, I insist, wrongly shaped. Not always, and not always badly, but to some extent.


We have done so far, and ONLY what we have done, is this:

1. Posed some logical questions: could logic handle uncertainty?

2. Demonstrated the crucial differences between local and necessary truths;

3. That having a philosophy is inescapable, and that belief was an act, a choice;

4. That logic was a mix of subjectivity---picking premises and proposition of interest---and objectivity---rigorously showing the connection between the premises and POIs. That logic was only about those connections; that logic was therefore a matter of the mind and not things;

5.That induction and intuition were of at least five different kinds, and that induction provides our most certain knowledge (induction provides us with the rules of logic, for instance, as do axioms, for which there is no and can be no empirical proof); and that there was no escaping faith (at least that your senses were working properly at times);

6. That probability could be represented as a mathematical function, and we discovered the form of that function (Bayes's Theorem); that certainty was given by the number 1, and falsity by the number 0.

All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51635/

Permanent class pa..

Lesson 6: Probability's Entrance! We PROVE, and do not assume, probability can be a number. We PROVE probability is an objective matter of logic. We PROVE all probability is conditional. We PROVE the interpretation of probability is the certainty in a proposition given assumed evidence.

All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51635/

Permanent class page: https://www.wmbriggs.com/class/

Do our rulers, Experts, elites and celebrities really believe what they say they believe about "gender", "climate change", "racism" and so forth? For instance, when these people say that that man over there in a dress is "really" a woman, do they truly mean it?

Some do, some don't, some will, some won't.

More at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51580/
More at https://open.substack.com/pub/wmbriggs/p/do-our-rulers-really-believe-what?r=b9swm&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&showWelcomeOnShare=true

Lesson 5: Induction & Intellection. Logic needs induction, which provides our most certain kind of knowledge. There are at least 5 different kinds of induction. From most to least certainty: intellection, intuition, argument, analogy, and finally probability.

All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51436/

Permanent class page: https://www.wmbriggs.com/class/

Lesson 4: The Return of Logic. We discover that we cannot learn logic emprically, that something more is needed (induction!). And that logic, like math, is not purely formal and that equations cannot be used unconditionally on Reality

All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51436/

Permanent class page: https://www.wmbriggs.com/class/

Lesson 3: Belief & Faith. We finish Chapter 1 of "Uncertainty". I give a plea why philosophy is necessary. The blog/Substack have an excerpt from this chapter again.

All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51347/

Permanent class page: https://www.wmbriggs.com/class/

Lesson 2: Truth. We start with Chapter 1 my "Uncertainty". The blog/Substack have an excerpt from this chapter.

All questions will be answered in the following Monday's lecture.

Written lecture: https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/51265/

Permanent class page: https://www.wmbriggs.com/class/

Designing a perfect random number generator is, some say, an impossible task. They are wrong. I have done so (no joke), and I show you how to build one too.

Details here:



Dear reader, a full-on spacesuit equipped with oxygen tanks, or with filters down below the viron level, will protect you from inhaling a respiratory virus. As long as you have it on. And don't have to change the filter.

And you don't eat. Or drink. Or use the facilities.

So it can be said "masks work" in blocking the spread of bugs.

But the flimsy plastic cheesy gappy snot-filled breath-soaked "surgical masks" the panicked hand-wringing shaking fear-filled hersterics made it a CRIME NOT to wear?

Those are crap. So that below when I say "masks", these and their cloth cousins are the kind I mean, always acknowledging that spacesuit-like masks will work, but only for the time they are worn.

This was always obvious. Obvious, that is, if you weren't judging the evidence from the "I'MGOINGTODIE!I'MGOINGTODIE!I'MGOINGTODIE!" mindset. Which, to be fair, was the only mindset to have if you watched any TV in 2020, or listened to almost any American ruler.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/45114/

Our title comes from a famous book by Lester Dubbins and Leonard Savage, which appeared at the beginning of the Bayesian Theoretical Resurgence (late 1970s), a movement which has by now infiltrated nearly all of academia. The next logical step (a pun!) on this road to a complete understanding of uncertainty is full-on logical probability. Academia is now far too distracted to venture down that road, so this trip will be some time coming.

Games of chance are always logical. Prove this by picking up any undergraduate text in statistics and find the chapter on probability. You will see examples like this: "A die has probability 1/6 of showing a 6; therefore, the probability of two die (or one die thrown twice) showing two 6s is 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36."

Valid answer, but an invalid, or at least incomplete, argument.

Comment at more at : https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44928/

Michael Anton in The Asylum has a semi-imaginary dialogue between himself (he calls himself Tom) and a woke man named Malcolm. Subject: separation of Red and Blue. Trigger warning: there are a lot! of exclamation points!

Anton argues the case for a dissolution of Empire as best as he can, but is never convincing. We on the Reality side of the debate will agree with Anton on all symptoms of our declining culture, and even on the desirability that we go our own way, and let the Woke fend for themselves.

But they will never let us go.

Comment and more at : https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44888/

Who needs "random" numbers"? Well, it depends on what "random" means. "Random" means unknown, unpredictable, lack of knowledge of cause.

So where might we need numbers which are unknown, unpredictable, and where the lack of knowledge of their cause is important?

I can think of only three: casinos, cryptography, and conjuring.

But NOT simulation.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44867

Modern medical science has settled on this idea: if a man who pretends to be a woman is denied use of the lady's shower or restroom, he will feel bad about himself, and perhaps kill himself. Thus we ought to let him in the showers with the women, and make the ladies inside go along with his delusion.

Naturally, this idea is also so if we swap male and female in the description, but it is tiresome to write that way, so we'll use only the male delusion as an exemplar.

It is a separate question how mandating delusion-agreement came to be the preferred treatment for delusion---it is like mandating liposuction for anorexics, or mandating free flights to Epstein Island for pedophiles. Here we are interested in the idea that proposing non-agreement will cause suicides in the delusional.

Enter the peer-reviewed paper "Anti-transgender rights legislation and internet searches pertaining to depression and suicide" by George Cunningham and others in PLOS One.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44445/

Anon asks:

"How is Antony Flew's problem of identifying miracles resolved? Namely the problem of determining that an act or event is (caused strictly or exclusively from) above and beyond nature (is divine) in the sense that no future or complete human knowledge or understanding of nature (or order of nature) can disprove it being so?

"I would much appreciate your input on this."

An event occurs. It is witnessed to occur, and there is no ambiguity in the observation. All agree the event has happened.

What caused the event? Could it have been God?

In one sense, yes, it must have been...

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44314/

Three papers on the All Holy Vex---praise it!

Before we get to it, do you know of any college, university or other indoctrination center that still <em>mandates</em> the coronadoom vex for students, the group of adults least likely to suffer from the doom itself?

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44330/

The American Medical Association (AMA) naturally weighed in on the end of Roe v Wade. They said the AMA itself was "deeply disturbed" by the court's decision.

They used these odd terms: "patients’ right to critical reproductive health care", "evidence-based reproductive health services", and "States that end legal abortion will not end abortion—they will end safe abortion".

Killing the lives inside would-be mothers is not "health care", and anyway is by definition not reproductive health care, and there is no "evidence" on earth that says so. Whatever the killing is, whether or not you agree with it, it is the opposite of reproductive. That is a medical, and not a legal or moral, judgement. Meaning we are dealing with a medical organization that does not understand medicine.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/40307/

The reason I like to say there is too much Science because Science is now too easy to do, is because---and here I note I say this with great resignation---is because it is true.

Any grant-holding tenure-posturing peer-reviewing midwit professor with a computer can pump out papers faster than even the hardest hardcore bureaucrat can issue regulations. This is not a good thing.

I don't know how many tens of thousands---or was it <em>hundreds</em> of thousands?---of coronadoom papers there were during the course of the panic, most of which could not possibly have been of any value. But now that the panic has cooled, and reached its farcical phase, a stage where you'd expect the flow to abate, it has only risen.

Here are two bad post-panic papers. The first we learned of from friend of the blog Kip Hansen. The second made the publicity rounds last week.

The Science One: Exposure To Conservatism causes coronadoom death!

The Science Two: Vaccine Hesitancy Causes Car Crashes!

Comment and more at : https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44227/

"See that man? He has the most discriminating tastes."

"I'll call the DIE police and have him arrested!"

Equality is the mind killer: nothing is more corrosive than egalitarianism. The belief in Equality, as I often say, led to the first sin. The first human sin. And ye shall be as gods. Eve desired Equality.

And why should we not be the equal of God! Think of the mighty disparity between him and us. I ask you: is that fair? This unbalanced power dynamic can only be because of discrimination.

What used to be a lovely useful, positive word has been transmogrified and blackened by Equality into its opposite. It is now ugly, poisonous and entirely negative. It is used as a weapon, to remind the hearer that the blessed state of Equity has not yet been reached, and that you should feel guilty about it. Once your awareness has been raised about a disparity, you are morally obligated to act to remove it.

Don't think so? Then read this headline: "New Zealand [Supreme] court rules voting age of 18 is discriminatory."


Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44218/

I used to believe in global warming, the story of which I put in How I Became A Renegade Scientist. I won't repeat any of that here. But I do want to emphasize certain other points of science from the old days that are going to arise.

Nobody can, or should, believe in "climate change". The reason is simple: "global warming" had a definite meaning; "climate change" doesn't mean anything. Rather, it means whatever each listener wants to mean each time they hear it. It functions like "racism" does outside science.

That global warming became "climate change" is one reason, but not the most important reason, that I lost, and why you should lose, confidence in global warming. Let's discuss that before the review.

Comment and more at : https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/43718/

Press 1 to continue reading this post in English. Presione 9 para continuar en español.

That little speech, which all of you have heard, is AI. Not a sophisticated or fascinating piece of AI, and easy to break, but it's AI nonetheless. It comprised of "If this, then that" statements, and so in our terminology is a model.

You're sick of hearing it, just as I'm not thrilled about repeating it, but here we go anyway: All models, and AI is a model, only say what they are told to say.

The model output "Press 1..." when an input is a certain way. If 1 was pressed, the AI went on to say other things it was told. If another number was pressed, again the AI did what it was told. And so on.

Improvements were made to the early telephone interfaces, and you can now speak, but it's the same thing. Just more layers of "If this, then that", with a touch more cleverness on both inputs and outputs.

The latest chatter concerns an evolving algorithm called ChatGPT, which, many say, does a decent job mimicking simple conversations, and even creating "stories." But it is no different in essence than the simplest AI we started with.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44115/

Many doctors, perhaps tiring of the old ways of medicine with its frustrating disappointments and frequent heartbreaks, are moving into an exciting new and growing field. Killing their patients. On purpose. For a fee.

I'm not sure what the going rate per scalp is. Maybe a reader in the insurance industry can help us out.

Surely it has to be indexed by the pound and age, though. Just think. Kill a kid, who can't weigh more than thirty, forty pounds, and you can with one arm cart the corpse to the organ processing lab. Just think what you can sell a kid's kidney for.

But slay geezer with a BMI north of 40 and it's going to take at least three guys to get him on the gurney and wheel the meat to the morgue. You're not going to get any kind of premium on his liver, and it may cost more than you can recover to cut him up.

So you charge less to kill the kid, and charge more to slaughter the senile. Economics 101.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/44005/

A reader asks:

Let's say I want to investigate the usefulness of wearing masks. So, I will measure the relevant factors concerning the virus. Then, I will implement the intervention, in this case, the wearing of masks. After that, I will do a measurement again. Would such research not provide the usefulness of the masks (assuming that the research design is correct)?

The answer is the key to all research -- and yet another proof p-values, hypothesis tests, and Bayes factors should be abandoned.

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/43994/

Our culture is saturated in scientism. Scientism comes in various forms. One is the belief that all knowledge is scientific — which is a proposition that is itself not scientific, and therefore self-refuting. Which is to say, it is false.

That embarrassing correction has been pointed out many times. There’s more to say about it, but we’ll leave it for another time.

The proposition still fails if we swap most for all. Putting knowledge—provable truths only and not likelihoods—on the scale, science on one side, and all other knowledge on the other, science loses the battle, too. Which I take to be obvious, given science deals more in probabilities than necessary truths.

our next example, the worst form of scientism.

A collection (a.k.a. a hubris) of researchers, ...

Comment and more at https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/43906/


Created 4 years, 9 months ago.

45 videos

Category Science & Technology

See https://wmbriggs.com for a complete description. I am a wholly independent vagabond writer, statistician, scientist and consultant. Previously a Professor at the Cornell Medical School, a Statistician at DoubleClick in its infancy, a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service, and a sort of Cryptologist with the US Air Force (the only title I ever cared for was Staff Sergeant Briggs).

My PhD is in Mathematical Statistics, though I am now a Data Philosopher (I made that up), Epistemologist, Probability Puzzler, Unmasker of Over-Certainty, and (self-awarded) Bioethicist. My MS is in Atmospheric Physics, and Bachelors is in Meteorology & Math.

Author of Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics, a book which calls for a complete and fundamental change in the philosophy and practice of probability & statistics; author of two other books and dozens of works in fields of statistics, medicine, philosophy, meteorology and climatology, solar physics, and energy use appearing in both professional and popular outlets.