Uncertainty

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A few weeks ago the Economist’s blog had a piece with the tag line “How increases in computing power have driven higher share turnover”. It shows a nice chart with two lines rising inexorably upwards, pretty close together, one representing the transistor count in integrated circuits from 1947 to date, and the other shares traded […] Read more

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Numbers are often perceived as a sign of respectability. Press releases often include them — it seems so much more believable to say 75.4% of people do such-and-such than to say many or even most people. Quote a specific percentage and people tend to believe it. The trouble is, the numbers we see in the press […] Read more

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It’s well known that people are very keen to find causality in the world, and reluctant to accept that a lot of what goes on is just random. Those of us who’ve been educated properly know that correlation is not causation, but it’s sometimes difficult to put that into practice. There are some common examples. […] Read more

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Ok, it’s a bit trite, but human behaviour is really important, and a good understanding of human behaviour is a goal for people in many different fields. Marketing, education and social policy all seek to influence our behaviour in different ways and for different purposes — that’s surely what the whole Nudge thing is all […] Read more

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Another good blog post from Understanding Uncertainty: for once not based on a howler from the British press. Instead, it’s based on a howler from the German press – High suicide rate in German forces serving abroad – every fifth soldier takes his own life. They actually meant to say one in five of deaths among […] Read more

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A very good blog post in the Guardian by Jon Butterworth, discussing the faster-than-light result (or possible result). One thing that wasn’t at all clear from the mainstream press coverage was that the whole thing depends on probability distributions. It’s obvious when you think about it (it’s not as if you can label an individual […] Read more

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Understanding uncertainty, David Spiegelhalter’s site, is an absolute must for anyone who reasons about or models uncertainty. David Spiegelhalter, Mike Pearson and Ian Short have just had a paper about Visualising uncertainty published by Science. If it’s anything like any of the content of the web site, it’s a must read.

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