William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

We Interrupt Our Regular Post—To Bring You Trump Roasting Hillary At The Al Smith Dinner


Notable for the difference in applause.

Poor Timothy Cardinal Dolan looks as if he ate day-old oysters. And don’t we feel sorry for the fellow to the left of the dais wearing the medal? Those TV lights must have been murder.

After all, why get along? Why pretend to? This isn’t a sporting event where the outcome is meaningless. This isn’t a routine election. This is war. The Culture War. Being nice surrenders needless territory. Being nice says “I may lose and if I do it won’t be so bad.” Nobody thinks that; nobody should.

Now there are a small fraction of Hillary supporters who really do believe—I mean this—that she is honest and that she loves us and that life will only improve under her beneficent eye. The belief these happy people share is one of the blessings of Democracy.

Most instead accept Hillary’s soul is black, but they love Equality, Diversity, Multiculturalism and all of modernity’s destructive forces, and they think they will flourish under Hillary. She dreams of open borders! Oh, sure, she’ll steal what she can, ruthlessly punish the odd enemy, break the law for herself and her cronies, start a lucrative war or two, declare victory in 2020 in 2018. But, hey, that’s the way life goes. A small price to pay to eliminate the biased restrictions foisted upon us by Reality.

A few know Hillary loves Hillary best and hope to cash in on that love. Indeed, some of these people will get lucky. But they’ll have to keep their wits about them. The in-fighting will be atrocious. Get ready for headlines like “Hillary administration’s John Smith found dead, four shots to the back of the skull. FBI rules the death a suicide. Will found leaving Smith’s assets to Chelsea.”

Figuratively! I’m speaking figuratively!

Of course, a small minority of Trump supporters believe the man to be the second coming of Reagan, or whatever. There are always enthusiasts.

But the majority know Trump is vain, crude, and rambunctious. They know he’ll expand government, albeit at a somewhat lower rate than Hillary. They accept Trump will smile upon his friends, but he’ll frown upon the country’s enemies more. He doesn’t need the government to grow rich, so those temptations will be removed. And, these folks think, there is at least a chance he means what he says about abortion, religious freedom, political correctness, legal immigration, discouraging terrorism, wanting NATO to (as Hillary would say) pay their fair share. not wanting a global war with Russia and China. How nice if that turns out to be true!

Trump’s inner circle is aware the private man, the CEO, is not the ball of bombast who appears on television. This a man who can make decisions. And has, to the tune of billions (they also know that nobody bats a thousand).

These candidates are nearly as opposite as possible. The only thing that would widen the gap were Trump to announce he was running for King.

Hail to the King, baby.

Debate Analysis & Election Predictions

These are tweets from last night’s debate—which I’m putting up the night of the debate. The timing’s important because here is my prediction, the last tweet of the night.

We’ll see how accurate this is in the morning.

Meanwhile, here are the top tweets, where I use ‘top’ advisedly. It was not a stunner of an event.


On 1 January 2016, I predicted Trump would win the nomination and the presidency. I stick by the second guess, acknowledging that there is at least a dose of wishcasting in my bet. Note that his is a bet and not a probability. The two are not equivalent (see this book for why!).

My probability is Trump is more probable than Hillary—which is not quantifiable (see this book to discover why most probabilities are not quantifiable!). The only numerical insight you can glean from this is that Trump’s probability, conditional on my evidence, is greater than 50%. Which isn’t an especially confident prediction.

Today, right now. That will ebb and flow as the days march on. (To learn why all probabilities are conditional on stated evidence (buy this book!)

The system is going to attempt to gin up “outrage” over Trump’s not swearing to accede to the election regardless of what happens. My guess is the best term for what we’ll see is “spittle-flecked frenzy.” The cathedral complex which is the establishment politicians (D and R), legacy media, the universities, and the “entertainment” world, and the bureaucracy will assume Trump’s non-pledge will work against him, and will push the point far past the breaking point. They’ll convince some “undecided” voters to fret, it’s true, which is a sad comment on the state of knowledge of these voters.

Will all these folks really think that Donald Trump and his minions will rise up and overthrow the newly created Government of Hillary were she to win and if Trump cries foul? Or will they merely say that Trump and his followers pointing out election fraud will “divide” the nation? But, my dears, the nation is already divided; the chasm is growing. The dominate side wants the deplorables to shut up and take it, to do whatever they’re told if Hillary wins. But who thinks those folks will march peaceably under Trump’s banner were he to win?

The frenzy will also work in Trump’s favor, to give impetus to those who might have stayed home. We’ve all seen the Wikileaks collusion emails, the Project Veritas paid-thuggery videos, the FBI “investigation”, the dead and non-citizens on the voter rolls, and on and on. It’s clear the system exists to perpetuate itself and that the corruption is far, wide, and deep and that it will only extend farther, expand wider, and descend deeper. This why every time some network’s expensive haircut fixes his beady eye at the camera and sheds a cold tear for Democracy—O! Democracy!—another Trump voter will be born.

Side note: interestingly, there are rumors among the desperate that the Project Veritas videos were faked or manipulated. Probably by Vladimir Putin and Bigfoot on a UFO fueled by the blood of innocent Syrian refugees.

Special note to those worried Trump might not win.

Suppose that Trump never joined the race. The elites would have—is there any doubt?—nominated Jeb. The campaign now would be between Clinton II and Bush III. And it wouldn’t have made a tinker’s dam worth of difference who won.

Can you imagine the queasy stomachs and the somnolence we would have developed stretching our minds to find anything—anything—to like about Bush III? “Well, Jeb will at least require undocumented immigrants fill out three more forms than Hillary would. Vote for Jeb.” Or “Jeb never raped or groped anybody and he loves his mother. Vote for Jeb.”

Yes, sure, Jeb would have still been better than Hillary, but he would have been so little better that the difference could only be measured by NIST’s top scientists.

With Trump, there is at least a chance of a not apocalyptically awful presidency. He might lose, and maybe those of us who were optimistic had it all wrong. But think of your support like that of buying a lottery ticket for a billion dollars, where you at least have a few weeks of imagining what it would be like to win big.

Enjoy that feeling! Because thoughtcrimes are on their way.

Now’s your last chance: say who will win in the Comments section.

Nature: The Scientists Who Support Trump — I’m Quoted

Sociology is, as is well known, doomed.

Sociology is, as is well known, doomed.

Sara Reardon from Nature magazine, the most widely read science journal in the world, put the word out: what working scientist would admit publicly to supporting Trump?

Why wouldn’t any scientist admit to supporting one of the two (major) nominees to the presidency of the once United States of America? Maybe the responses to Reardon’s tweet give a clue.


“I’m doing a side piece on ignominious career blunders, mind if I borrow some quotes”

Who’s up for murder? “you will tell us if you find one? We need them for our herbarium.”

“I cannot see how someone with adequate knowledge in the scientific method could agree with Trump’s statements.”

“HAHAHA. As if any Trump-supporting scientist is going to commit career suicide by admitting such.”

And then the truth: “Come tell us who you are, so we can put a blackmark on your career file! Not even a Nobel Prize saved Watson.”

The scientists who support Donald Trump

“Science policy fades into background for many who back Republican candidate in US presidential race.”

Finally the article itself.

[Kaylee, not her real name, a woman biologist and Catholic is for Trump.]

Trump, a Republican, has run a brash, often divisive, campaign that has prompted some leading members of his own party to disavow him. He has drawn criticism for his treatment of women, his pledge to block Muslim immigration to the United States, and his plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Still, Kaylee says, “I am 100% certain I will not vote for Hillary Clinton,” Trump’s Democratic opponent, despite her fears that supporting Trump could harm her job prospects…

Her fears do not surprise Neil Gross, a sociologist at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Surveys have shown that conservative faculty members are a minority in US universities, although the proportion varies by field (see ‘Field reports’). “My sense is that the candidacy of Donald Trump has really intensified disputes that were there already in academic life,” Gross says. “If Republicans in academia and science felt uncomfortable before, I think the candidacy of Mr Trump has made them all the more uncomfortable.”

[Our friend Stan Young is for Trump, as is a fellow named David Deming, a geophysicist.]

William Briggs, a statistician at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, likes the fact that Trump has not emphasized science. “The federal government has become far too involved in setting the scientific agenda,” says Briggs, who argues that Obama has misused science in politically charged debates over climate change and energy policy. “I think Hillary would worsen that.”

…[Kaylee’s] lab’s principal investigator…has given her a safe space to express conservative views.

But not everyone is so lucky. And as the 8 November election nears, talk of the hard-fought presidential race grows trickier to escape. Some scientists who support Trump worry that political discussions in the lab will not only harm their careers in the long term, but also hinder current collaborations with colleagues, and waste time…

My affiliation is off slightly. I am an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell, in charge of nobody and nothing and with no funding; and I don’t live in Ithaca (once voted the most enlightened city in the world). I spoke with Reardon for some forty-five minutes: another day I’ll discuss the important details of that conversation. Meanwhile…

Did you notice it? Was it obvious?

Imagine if Reardon wrote this: “Some scientists who support Hillary worry that political discussions will not only harm their careers in the long term, but also hinder current collaborations with colleagues.

You can’t imagine it, can you. The very idea is preposterous! Of course supporting Hillary wouldn’t be problematic; indeed, it is the only sane thing to do. Nobody anywhere, even at the most “conservative” institution you can imagine, would suffer more than a sidelong glance for supporting Hillary.

But Trumpers have to go underground, like “Kaylee”, if any part of their careers are ahead of them. If they are near retirement and mostly untouchable like Young, they can speak out. If they are on the outside and resigned to that fate, like Yours Truly, there’s no more harm that can be done by revealing themselves.

The reasonable fear of unthinking vindictive colleagues is a prime reason to support Trump.

Nature, perhaps wisely, turned off comments to Reardon’s article. But there’s been reaction on-line. Responding to a tweet of the article’s title, one fellow said “All four of them :-)”, to which Reardon replied, “Plenty more who didn’t make it in there or changed their minds. And people are afraid to admit it.”

A non-scientist science-worshiping journalist said “Sounds to me like mental gymnastics to look past his contempt for science.” Note: science is not a conscious being worthy of worship. Try saying “He has contempt for walnuts” to see what I mean.

Dumb jokes abounded, like: “Some scientists support Trump (many anonymous due to strong bias of colleagues in favor of rationality and facts).”

There were numerous bug-witted responses to Nature’s original tweet.


My favorites, “yes, when you a RACIST, you always support another RACIST regardless of facts” and “pitiful scum… Poor excuse for a scientist. But yeah, racists back racists…”

Only a racist? Sigh. I am also a homophobic trannyphobic Islamophobic sexist.

The article just came out, so there’s bound to be more reaction. I’ll see that updates are put here; and you can add finds in the comment section.

Open Thread

There was a bit of a mix up in communication about post order on my e-holiday (my fault), and the result is, because of articles pending at Stream and the order of others in the queue, there is no post today.

But if we want something to discuss, this:

(I’m signing back off until the debate.)

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