This is it! The nine-hundred-ninety-ninth-plus-one post! The post whose number is a pleasing and large (relatively speaking) power of ten! The post that pushes us over the top of the pile and into history!
Well, perhaps that last claim is a trifle bombastic. But, dammit, a full 1000, mostly emanating from the wee isle of Manhattan. Yes, sir: an incredibly large number of scintillating, thought-provoking—with an emphasis on provocation—sparkling, any-antonym-of-dull, nearly daily hardcore articles. No light reading here!
It might help, in trying to understand the style of this blog, to learn that a favorite cartoon is one in which we see an aged man lying in bed, his family and the doctor gathered round. The old man, with a nasty little grin, says, “These are my last words. No, wait. These are my last words. Hold on. These are my truly last words…”
Whatever defect plagued that old man is surely possessed by your author. The worst part is that is not only is this defect acknowledged, it is sinfully cherished. There is no known cure.
Yet the problem is partly your fault. You have exacerbated the situation. Yes, to accompany this bloggy millennium are a number of comments fifteen shy of 17,000. For those who’d rather not do the math, this is an average of seventeen reader contributions per post.
True, many of these are variants of “Briggs, you fool! You have it wrong again…” but that makes no difference. These might even aggravate your author’s condition.
On 6 December 2007, there appeared post number 1, How to Exaggerate Your Results: Case study #1. Evidently, I thought that numbering case studies a brilliant idea. The article applied statistical vivisection to an advertisement which shouted “Lipitor reduces risk of heart attack by 36%*.” All the magic happened in that asterisk.
Two comments accompanied this article, one by some guy flogging an anti-cholesterol book, the other by a gentleman who wanted to be given that book as a gift.
From there, we moved to The mathematics of Santa Claus’ present delivery system, which has been reposted each Christmas. This article, which I had on an earlier, static, non-blog version of this website was found by the producers of Weird USA, a History Channel show which broadcast yours truly dismissing India and China as worthy of Santa’s attention.
We have explored the mania of global warming, then climate change, then climate catastrophism, soon to be climate horrible-doom. Press reports on climatology are like those of a marketing company desperate to flog an unwanted product, forever issuing broadsides which claim “New and Improved!” We imagine the company’s frustrated executives gathered around a table and wailing, “Why won’t they buy what we’re selling?”
The heat seems to be abating, attentions drifting. People are caring less. Which is fine by me, since not much original ever appears on the topic. To see all climate articles, click here.
My specialty is, of course, statistics, but in the sense of an applied branch of the philosophy of science or epistemology. Like, for example, a physicist, I do math, but I am not a mathematician. Probability can be a branch of math, but when probability is used to quantify uncertainty about life it ceases to be math and turns into philosophy. Since we make decisions using probability it is crucial to understand what probability really means.
I adopt positivism and logic as a basis of knowledge. This position is non-skeptical, non-mystical, and wholly non-subjective. This is in the tradition of Aristotle, Keynes, Jeffreys, Carnap, and many others, but Edwin Jaynes and David Stove most of all. In the lingo, this is called “Objective Bayes” (or Bayesiansim); however, I do not claim to follow any person’s system exactly. For example, I reject Carnap’s notion of two kinds of probability: to me, it’s all one. To see all philosophy articles, click here.
Of all subjects, there is probably none more important than that explored in our serious discussion of men’s fashion. What is the proper length for a tie? Why, unless you are laboring, you should never wear jeans. The rules of hat etiquette. The benefits of the suit and gentlemanly dress. Remember: other people have to look at you, so for God’s sake, wear no t-shirts emblazoned with asinine humor. For a brief list of fashion articles, click here.
A limited, but growing selection of my favorite articles can always be found at the top of the page, under the Stats/Climate link.
Most of all, thanks to everybody for making this blog a success. My heart soars like a hawk to see the crew of regulars stopping by and chipping in. See you at the next order of magnitude!
Update: Thanks for all your encouragement, everybody! If you were hear, you would see my copious tears of happiness.