essential read for anyone who encounters statistical "proof"

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essential read for anyone who encounters statistical "proof"

Postby Braininvat on November 6th, 2016, 3:18 pm 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/books ... atz-t.html

"Proofiness, The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception" by Charles Seife - if you care about how journalists, attorneys, politicians, pundits, partisans, judges, et al, use or misuse numbers to advance a point, this is a must-read. Clearly written, accessible to both math wonks and the layperson. In these times, I especially recommend Ch.5, "Electile Dysfunction." I vote this Best Read for SPCF Members, 2016.
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Re: essential read for anyone who encounters statistical "pr

Postby zetreque on November 6th, 2016, 4:34 pm 

It sucks that people do things which discredits science so badly. Right now there are people out there giving a bad name to science and the government. They are twisting facts and using lies bringing down our whole society.

I spent half of yesterday researching a topic (I will leave unnamed so this thread doesn't get side tracked) and I found several scientific peer reviewed papers in support of the topic, then I found a whole slew of rebuttal papers showing how 90% of the first papers were factually false and full of errors conveniently putting a decimal in the wrong place. It's such a waste of time. I found another paper on the topic showing how several different industries are putting out falsified papers and overwhelmingly support the research they are funding and want to support.

On a little bit different topic, I have had a through that keeps crossing my mind lately about how the people that are succeeding in today's world might not be the smartest people, but one thing they all have in common is being able to speak the language of capitalism. You can be a genius, but if you don't grasp the system of capitalism you might as well forget it. I thought about this when reading the above article because of the language of numbers. It's no secret that math is not a very popular topic in schools. I recall reading an article a while back about something about humans not having evolved the functions in the brain to handle numbers. This makes it so that the few that can handle numbers in their head and in a capitalist type of way are dominating the planet right now. They have an unfair advantage. Then using numbers and the credibility that have obtained over the years, these people are turning to misleading lies and bringing down the credibility of the very thing that brought us here.

It is scary how important of a time it is in our world with such environmental problems, disasters and population growth and it's happening at the same time people are discrediting the institution that gave us this technowonderful world. Numbers brought us here, but at the time we need numbers to solve the problems we created, they are used in a way that discredits the thing that will save us from ourselves.
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Re: essential read for anyone who encounters statistical "pr

Postby wolfhnd on November 6th, 2016, 7:01 pm 

I think we suffer from an over abundance of crisis.

Math is a tool and like any other tool it can be wielded with varying skill. Science is going through growing pains, it has exploded in terms of practitioners. The old checks and balances are crushed not only by an logarithmic growth in numbers and scope but the speed of information propagation. Crisis is just another word for imbalance in a system. If it is true that statistical rigor is reaching some low point it is likely to be self correcting. The real crisis may be in a lack of imagination and perspective.

Einstein by all accounts was not his generation's greatest mathematician. By his own admission his greatest asset was imagination. The kind of imagination that looks past contemporary scientific dogma.

It is much easier to imagine crisis than opportunity. The calamities that the human race has faced in the past are not trifling compared to the ones we face. If there is a crisis in science it is magnified by the relative preeminence it plays from a historical perspective.

It takes little imagination to see that science has been a two edged sword. But has it really? The people that take that position in general define science to narrowly. For example the population explosion requires science no more sophisticated than agriculture.

In many ways the solutions to our problems are more related to the incompatibility of our instincts with the current environment than science. Modern science may improve the condition of human life but it arguably little on the quantity thereof.

I also believe it requires little imagination to see that the most existential threats to the human race remains natural disasters and nuclear war. However we are not talking about existential threats. The pressing issues for science largely remain quality of life issues. Removing ourselves from the cycle of random natural selection and it's indifference to happiness.

Setting science up as our saviour ignores the fact that science in it's current state is poorly equipped to deal with complex chaotic systems. For some time into the future the political process will be more dependent on judgement than science.
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Re: essential read for anyone who encounters statistical "pr

Postby zetreque on November 6th, 2016, 7:06 pm 

What I meant in my post is that when lies and deception discredit science, then people are less likely to believe in it when it's telling them... Houston, We have a problem.
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Re: essential read for anyone who encounters statistical "pr

Postby vivian maxine on November 7th, 2016, 8:17 am 

There is something about the human mind that loves the negative. Scientists, among its many projects, are even studying this fact. If we oppose something someone has already proposed, we think we are thinking. We like to nit-pick. We like to annoy by "proving" someone wrong. Since science has had some great successes in the past century, we are on the attack. Why? Who knows? We are what we are.
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