Heartland Conference, Statistics Classes, Statistics Books, & Statistical Cups


Heartland Conference

I’ll be there, speaking Friday on “The Need To Believe In ‘The Solution’ To Global Warming”. This is a paper which I’ll try to find a home for (2,000 words).

I’ve been told registrations have maxed out. So if you want to get autographs and pictures or locks of hair, you’ll have to do it in the lobby of the hotel. I think presentations will eventually be on-line. Stay tuned.

On-line statistics class: sort of

It’s that time of year. My class starts on the 15th. In preparation, on the blog I’ll be doing mostly epistemology from now until the class starts, after which I’ll switch to the class for two weeks. The “on-line” part means you’re welcome to follow along. I’ll be blogging about the Heartland conference, of course.

The level is entry. But it isn’t a standard statistics class by any stretch.

As usual, I won’t do much lecturing, but that which I do sticks close to the book. I’ll be using the same book, which is badly in need of updating. But it has the right price: download a free copy.

I prefer the fancy-sounding Socratic method. Meaning I want people to figure things out for themselves by asking questions. I give some canned examples, but these are never as effective as having people make their own. Because of that, I can’t see how a strict on-line class like mine would ever work, unless everybody participated by video camera (which I understand some systems now do).

Updated book?

Speaking of books, my new one is almost finished. It’s still in review at Cambridge.

This book is not like the first. It is meant for advanced audiences, the sort who might have read (say) Howson and Urbach’s Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian Approach or ET Jaynes’s Probability Theory: The Logic of Science.

Well, maybe only the philosophical portions of Jaynes. My book has some (advanced) math, mostly about a different interpretation of exchangeability and the origin of parameters, but as little as possible. The problem is that probability isn’t, at base, a mathematical subject. Portions of it—only portions!—can be turned into formulas. Ad the danger is applying those formulas. That’s when interpretation arises and the Deadly Sin of Reification lurks.

Everything flows from this idea: probability, the completion of logic, is the study of relations between propositions; it is thus objective; and thus all probability, like all logic, is conditional on the exact premises specified. And from that simple truth, a complete theory of probability and statistics arises. This theory looks very unlike classical statistical practice, but it resembles, or actually is, the way physics used to be done (before politics and wishful thinking took even that field over).

Maybe next week, I’ll post the Table of Contents. Once it’s “done”, I’ll be sending copies of it to some colleagues (at this point, this is only a handful of people; I’ll let blog readers know when it’s ready for publication).

There is no global warming, politics, or cultural matters in the book. I do take on bad statistics practices, but I do not name names (that way everybody can think it was the other guy that made mistakes). It is pure (applied) epistemology.


The other exception to posting will be the Pope’s encyclical. It’s been said it’ll be about 1/3 longer than this last, which already ran over 200 pages. There is some serious work ahead of us.

Drink up!

Due to underwhelming demand I have created my own swag store! Be the first one your block, and very probably the first one on your own continent, to own the Official WMBriggs.com Thirst-Quenching COFFEE CUP OF THE STARS!

It works swell with brandy! It positively sings with bourbon! But it comes into its own with rum! And I have even heard that it can be used with coffee!

Notice all the exclamation cups! That’s how you know it’s a Good Deal!


Get the option with the black handle and rim. It looks best. But you can also get a plain white (cheaper), stein or travel mug.

I get 10% from every order (before PayPal takes their cut). I figure if I can sell about 31,000 of these each year, then I can make a good living. So don’t worry about breaking yours.

I’ll have a permanent button at the top of the site for these items soon. Oh, the cups are the same. I have to figure out why the store shows it twice. Don’t ask for t-shirts. T-shirts should never be worn except as undergarments.


  1. Maybe Heartland’s conference will cheer you up. It’s being held east of the Mississippi and I have a long-standing prohibition about crossing into that territory, so I’ll have to pass on waiting outside the hotel for an autograph.

    Can the mug hold soda? I could add it to the 100 or so I inherited when my mug-collecting mother died. I’d put it toward the front. 🙂

    Definitely let us know when your book is out.

  2. 31,000 of those WOULD make a good living even in NYC. Speaking of mug shots the diner guy needs a refill. I take it you liked the movie.

  3. JMJ, best and wittiest comment you’ve made for a long time!!!
    Briggs, I’m not sure what your first book was about, but the statistics book that’s needed is “Statistics for the layman” (somewhat like Jessica Utts’ “Seeing through Statistics”) but more to the critical side–like a book of your posts.

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