William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Updates: What’s Happening With Briggs? With the On-line Course? Etc.?

I used to have one like this, though without the hood protuberance.

I used to have one like this, though without the hood protuberance.

Homefront

Things progress on the Briggs ranch—a patch of 900 square feet in the wilds of Upper Eastern Manhattan. They may shortly be progressing away from the island towards…where, nobody knows. If I had my druthers, it would be where the mountains are high and the emperor far away.

What frightens is the thought I might have to buy a car. Citizens of this fine country do not want me on the working end of a steering wheel. Still, we survived wrestling on TV and NPR so perhaps we can cope.

On-line Statistics Course

It’s in preparation. I’m going to do just one at first, modeled on the off-line Summer course I do at Cornell. I’ll soon have a syllabus posted. Still plenty of time to make suggestions, express desires about the format.

I’ve learned a bit from the existing on-line frameworks, MOOCs and the like. Some of these are fine, but I think not for us. We’ll almost surely be taking a Groves of Academe approach: you-me personal contact and with you signing up for the love of learning the subject. I’m still figuring whether I can offer “Certificates”, or just Letters of Completion and Recommendation. I wouldn’t want to offend any lawyers.

Timing? March-ish, maybe sooner, maybe later. But before Summer. Duration? Four to six weeks, give or take. Less crams too much in too short a space, more and you forget why you started. Payment? Preferably gold ducats, or other form of untraceable cash. In reality, Paypal (which also means credit card), check, or clandestine paper bag swap.

My Day Job

Besides the class I have at Cornell (two weeks in June), I am independent. I use this page to solicit jobs, offer talks, and offend all and sundry.

I mainly work in medicine, with hospitals that are not medical schools but which have residencies and thus research requirements for their faculty. Yes, publish or perish (or publish about the perished) is a rule at teaching hospitals, too. The world needs more papers.

Marketing and other companies also come calling. This is okay work, but, oh my, the people there face terrible temptation to “shade” results in the direction pleasing to their clients and bosses.

What I’d like to do is more lecturing, telling people of such statistical maleficences as the deadly sin of reification, the cult of the p-value, triumphantly stating the obvious, the beguilement of the parameter, the happy bandwagon effect, and so forth, all of which lead to dreadful over-certainty.

If you know of entities that wish to understand true uncertainty and the fundamentals of Bayesian predictive philosophy, then send them my way (note the contact page at the top). I have lectures of all durations, including corporate training. Call or email today!

Actually, don’t call today. It’s the weekend and I’m lazy.

So You Want To Donate?

Many generous people have contributed to the Book Fund—see the yellow button to the right. I am profoundly grateful for these gifts. And you’ll note the very pleasant lack of advertising? These donations keep me in my habit without having to scrounge grants. Or write papers from which to base a foundation for scrounging grants.

I am not against grants per se, but there are too many of them, the flood of money from the government tending to corrupt.

My Book?

See the books page at the right for the free version of the statistics book, and also one I wrote on testing psychic powers (which I wrote many years ago when the skeptic “movement” was apolitical).

I’m working on the logical probability book, another on over-certainty, and one other in the service of our war.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update. I look forward to your classes!

    (I laughed at your ranch term! I live in Wyoming where a ranch covers most small towns!)

  2. Are you open to applying for a tenured faculty position? Just in case I hear of one. Or is that too confining?

  3. BTW: I read Breaking the Law of Averages. Very interesting and informative — even for one coming from a Misesian (More Ludwig than evil :) Richard) point of view.

  4. Weakening.
    I only want to be able to teach a computer to see the difference between an outlier and corrupt data. But I have recently been given a textbook on basic statistics for managers. Turns out that there is a good correlation between banging your head on a desk and the onset of headaches.
    May have to take your course if I can get permission to use protected data.

    Oh. And check out Utah. You may be surprised. E.g. In my last argument with a liberal I found myself saying. Guess how you know you are in Mormon country? Clean streets, no graffiti, and a puzzling feeling of “just why am I locking this car?”

  5. I’d welcome your comments on the “uniform prior” furore. At Bishop Hill for one: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/1/25/uniform-priors-and-the-ipcc.html.
    Naively I thought a uniform prior expressed complete ignorance in the absence of evidence so would be the right choice. But no. It seems to be wrong always.

  6. Glad you’re marching along in step with progress! Im still loving the blog after all this time. Keep up the great work.

  7. Briggs

    27 January 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Gary,

    It’s rather that many find me too expansive.

    Jim, Will,

    Flatterers.

    Bill S,

    Curious. The Blonde Bombshell also mentioned Utah.

    Rich,

    Short answer: Sometimes okay, sometimes not. In discrete situations, almost always good; in continuous it can be nuts or reasonable approximation, but it always remains that: an approximation.

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