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Category: Statistics

The general theory, methods, and philosophy of the Science of Guessing What Is.

November 21, 2017 | 45 Comments

I Am A Climate Denier

Stream: I Am A Climate Denier

The latest meeting of the UN to discuss the redistribution of your money because of “climate change” has just concluded.

Here’s one headline generated by the event: “Pope Francis says those who deny climate change have ‘perverse attitudes’“.

The pontiff, during remarks made to negotiators at climate talks in Germany, called climate change “one of the most worrisome phenomena that humanity is facing.” He added efforts to combat climate change are held back by those who deny the science behind it, are indifferent or resigned to it, or think it can be solved by technical solutions.

“We must avoid falling into these four perverse attitudes, which certainly don’t help honest research and sincere, productive dialogue,” he said.

If the Pope’s real intent was to resurrect one of the most useful words in the English language,
pervert, piteously massacred in the Sexual Revolution, then I’m right there with him.

But if he meant to imply that there is such a thing as a “climate”, then God bless the man, but I have to disagree.

Admit the denial

I deny the climate. There is no such thing. I am a climate denier. Those who say there is are dupes, propaganda pawns of a worldwide conspiracy. Climate? What “climate”? Climate forsooth!

There has never been a “climate”. It is a lie. Those in the media and bureaucracy who say there is a climate are in the pay of foreign agents. We used to think these agents were Chinese, but it wasn’t until the day Pope Francis spoke that we knew it was Barzini all along. No, wait. I meant the Russians.

The Russians are coming!

Why Vladimir Putin wants to deceive the West into believing there is such as thing as a “climate”, I do not know. Remember, they drink a lot of vodka in Russia.

It’s clear that Putin is behind the scheme, though. He and his minions put Trump into office because Trump blamed the climate hoax on the Chinese and not the Russians. Trump’s blame shifting took the eye off of his Russian masters.

I heard on CNN that Vlad was so grateful for this act of loyalty, that his agents poisoned the food at a spirit-cooking dinner attended by Hillary. The poison caused her to lose her balance, focus, and ultimately the Presidency.

Mad scientists

Just think about it. There can be no such thing as a “climate”. How could there be? Just because scientists say there is? Should we believe “scientists” just because they are scientists? What makes scientists so special? That guy in the Town Hall scene in the documentary Young Frankenstein had it right. “All those scientists, they’re all alike,” he said, “They say they’re working for us, but what they really want is to rule the world!”

Don’t listen to scientists! There is no climate. After all, didn’t these same scientists say back in 1970 that this mysterious “climate”—suspiciously a thing that only they can see—would turn against mankind and plunge temperatures everywhere colder and colder?


Don’t deny it. You want to click here and read the best parts.

November 13, 2017 | 4 Comments

Manipulating the Alpha Level Cannot Cure Significance Testing — Update: Paper Finally Live!

A new paper has been submitted to a well known journal, “Manipulating the Alpha Level Cannot Cure Significance Testing: Comments on ‘Redefine Statistical Significance'”, by David Trafimow, Valentin Amrhein, Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, and — count ’em! — fifty-one others, of which is included Yours Truly. The other authors kindly and graciously allowed me to add my Amen, for which I am most grateful.

The “comments” refer to the paper by DJ Benjamin, Jim Berger, and a slew of others, “Redefine statistical significance” in Nature Human Behavior 1, 0189. Our submission is to the same journal, obviously as rebuttal.

We looked at Benjamin before, in the post Eliminate The P-Value (and Bayes Factor) Altogether & Replace It With This. The replacement is predictive modeling, which I wrote about extensively in Uncertainty and briefly in the JASA paper The Substitute for P-Values.

From the new paper, the One sentence summary: “We argue that depending on p-values to reject null hypotheses, including a recent call for changing the canonical alpha level for statistical significance from .05 to .005, is deleterious for the finding of new discoveries and the progress of cumulative science.”

You may download the entire paper as a PDF preprint at Peer J Preprints.

Here (not set in blockquote to avoid the italics) is the entire Conclusion. Help spread the word! It’s time to kill off p-values and “null hypothesis” significance testing once and for all — and restore a great portion of Uncertainty that has falsely been killed off. (Yes, Uncertainty.)


It seems appropriate to conclude with the basic issue that has been with us from the beginning. Should p-values and p-value thresholds be used as the main criterion for making publication decisions? The mere fact that researchers are concerned with replication, however it is conceptualized, indicates an appreciation that single studies are rarely definitive and rarely justify a final decision. Thus, p-value criteria may not be very sensible. A counterargument might be that researchers often make decisions about what to believe, and using p-value criteria formalize what otherwise would be an informal process. But this counterargument is too simplistic. When evaluating the strength of the evidence, sophisticated researchers consider, in an admittedly subjective way, theoretical considerations such as scope, explanatory breadth, and predictive power; the worth of the auxiliary assumptions connecting nonobservational terms in theories to observational terms in empirical hypotheses; the strength of the experimental design; or implications for applications. To boil all this down to a binary decision based on a p-value threshold of .05, .01, .005, or anything else, is not acceptable.

UPDATE Peerj says “This manuscript has been submitted and is being checked by PeerJ staff.” I thought it would have already cleared by now. It hasn’t, so the link above won’t yet work, as John discovered. Once the paper clears, I’ll update again. Sorry for the confusion.

UPDATE Difficulty is that Peer J says all authors have to confirm authorship, which means 54 people have to sign up for an account, etc. etc. Stay tuned.

UPDATE Paper is finally live! Follow this link!

November 12, 2017 | 1 Comment

Summary Against Modern Thought: Angels Know What We Know, And All At Once

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Today marks the close of Book II. There are four books in the series, with Book III being a bruiser, more than 50% longer than the others. We began Book I on 25 May 2014, two-and-a-half years ago. Therefore, I estimate we have a little more than three years to go before we finish; perhaps Christmas of 2020. Then it’s on to Summa Theologica!

Chapter 99 That separate substances know material things (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

1 Thus, through the intelligible forms in question a separate substance knows not only other separate substances, but also the species of corporeal things.

Notes Angels know us.

2 For their intellect, being wholly in act, is perfect in point of natural perfection, and, therefore, it must comprehend its object—intelligible being—in a universal manner. Now, the species of corporeal things are also included within intelligible being, and the separate substance, therefore, knows them.

3 Moreover, since the species of things are distinguished as the species of numbers are distinguished, as noted above, the higher species must contain in some way that which is in the lower, just as the greater number contains the lesser. Since, then, separate substances are above corporeal substances, it follows that whatever things exist in corporeal substances in a material way are present in separate substances in an intelligible way, for that which is in something is in it according to the mode of that in which it is.

4 Also, if the separate substances move the heavenly bodies, as the philosophers say, then whatever results from the movement of the heavenly bodies is attributed to those bodies as instruments, since they move in being moved, but is ascribed to the separate substances which move them, as principal agents.

Now, separate substances act and move by their intellect. Hence, they are actually causing whatever is effected by the movement of the heavenly bodies, even as the craftsman works through his tools. Therefore, the forms of things generated and corrupted enjoy intelligible being in the separate substances. And that is why Boethius, in his book On the Trinity [II], says that from forms that are without matter came the forms that are in matter. Separate substances, then, know not only separate substances, but also the species of material things. For, if they know the species of generable and corruptible bodies, as the species of their proper effects, much more do they know the species of the heavenly bodies, as being the species of their proper instruments.

5 Indeed, the intellect of a separate substance is in act, having all the likenesses to which it is in potentiality, as well as being endowed with the power to comprehend all the species and differences of being; so that of necessity every separate substance knows all natural things and the total order thereof.

6 But since the intellect in perfect act is the thing understood in act, someone may think that a separate substance does not understand material things; for it would seem incongruous that a material thing should be the perfection of a separate substance.

7 Rightly considered, however, it is according to its likeness present in the intellect that the thing understood is the perfection of the one who understands it; for it is not the stone existing outside the soul that is a perfection of our possible intellect. Now, the likeness of the material thing is in the intellect of a separate substance immaterially, according to the latter’s mode, not according to that of a material substance. Hence, there is no incongruity in saying that this likeness is a perfection of the separate substance‚Äôs intellect, as its proper form.

Chapter 100 That separate substances know singulars (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

1 Now, the likenesses of things existing in the intellect of a separate substance are more universal than in our intellect, and more efficacious as means through which something is known. And that is why separate substances, through the likenesses of material things, know material things, not only in terms of the nature of the genus or the species, as our intellect does, but in their individual nature as well.

2 For, since the species of things present in the intellect must be immaterial, they could not in our intellect be the principle of knowing singulars, which are individuated by matter; the species of our intellect are, in fact, of such limited power that one leads only to the knowledge of one.

Hence, even as it is impossible for the likeness of the generic nature to lead to the knowledge of the genus and difference so that the species be known through that likeness, so the likeness of the specific nature cannot lead to the knowledge of the individuating principles, which are material principles, so that through that likeness the individual may be known in its singularity. But the likeness existing in the separate substance’s intellect as a certain single and immaterial thing is of more universal power and, consequently, is able to lead to the knowledge of both the specific and the individuating principles, so that through this likeness, residing in its intellect, the separate substance can be cognizant, not only of the generic and specific natures, but of the individual nature as well. Nor does it follow that the form through which it knows is material; nor that those forms are infinite, according to the number of individuals…

4 A further argument. The species of intelligible things come to our intellect in an order contrary to that in which they reach the intellect of a separate substance. For they reach our intellect by way of analysis, through abstraction from material and individuating conditions; that is why we cannot know singulars through them.

But it is as it were by way of synthesis that intelligible species reach the intellect of a separate substance, for the latter has intelligible species by reason of its likeness to the first intelligible species—the divine intellect—which is not abstracted from things, but productive of them. And it is productive not only of the form, but also of the matter, which is the principle of individuation. Therefore, the species of the separate substance’s intellect regard the total thing, not only the principles of the species, but even the individuating principles. The knowledge of singulars, therefore, must not be denied to separate substances, although our intellect cannot be cognizant of singulars…

Chapter 101 Whether separate substances have natural knowledge of all things at the same time (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation.

1 Now, since “the intellect in act is the thing understood in act, just as the sense in act is the sensible in act,” and since the same thing cannot at the same time be many things actually, it is seemingly impossible, as we observed above, that the intellect of a separate substance should be possessed of diverse species of intelligibles.

2 But it must be known that not everything is actually understood, the intelligible species of which is actually present in the intellect. For, since an intelligent substance is also endowed with will, being, thereby, master of its own acts, it is in its power after it possesses an intelligible species to use it for understanding actually, or, if it have several intelligible species, to use one of them.

That is why we do not actually consider all the things of which we have scientific knowledge. Therefore, an intellectual substance, being cognizant of things through a plurality of species, uses the one that it chooses, and thereby actually knows at the same time through the one species all the things which it knows; for they are all as one intelligible thing so far as they are known through one, even as our intellect knows at the same time several things brought together or related to one another as one individual thing. On the other hand, the things that the intellect knows through diverse species, it does not know at the same time. And, consequently, just as there is one understanding, so is there one thing actually understood.

3 Therefore, in the intellect of a separate substance there is a certain succession of understandings, but not movement properly so called, since act does not succeed potentiality; rather, act succeeds act.

4 But the divine intellect knows all things at the same time, because it knows all things through one thing, its essence, and because its action is its essence.

5 Wherefore, in God’s understanding there is no succession, but His act of understanding, wholly and simultaneously perfect, endures through all the ages. Amen.

November 9, 2017 | 16 Comments

Math: Old, New, and Equalitarian — A Review

I have a new paper out in Academic Questions, a review, “Math: Old, New, and Equalitarian.”

Springer is charging a mere pittance for viewing it. Only $39.95. But I think you can get a PDF from this link, through something Springer is called “SharedIt“. I’m not at all clear what it means, and I have no interest in discovering. As long as you can read the article, I’ll be happy.

Here’s the start…

There are three ways to teach math to the young. The old way forced rote memorization of basics and then, for most, stopped the lessons, continuing them only for those who had the inclination or ability to advance. The “new” way was to “expose” every student from the beginning, no matter their age or inexperience, to the highest, most difficult mathematical concepts, so that all might know how wondrous and astonishing math is.

The modern way, which may soon be upon us, is to let students define what math is to them or their culture, to let them discuss their feelings about what math means, and to work toward the goal of equality, that happy state when all are satisfied with their level of (self-defined) mathematical understanding. Two new books—The New Math: A Political History, by Christopher J.Phillips, and Critical Math ematicsEducation: Theory, Praxis, and Reality, edited by Paul Ernest, Bharath Sriraman, and Nuala Ernest—bring these distinctions to the fore.

People were long happy with the old way and for the happiest of reasons. It worked. Nearly every child eligible to attend school could be made to learn, or at least to memorize, that 8 x 7 = 56 and that triangles encompassed half as many degrees as circles and what simple consequences flowed from these facts. Not every child could advance beyond these basics, but few thought that all should.

That attitude began to change mid-twentieth century, a time in which greater proportions of children were enrolling in all levels of schooling.Because of the Cold War and the impression that America was falling behind, the concern was that kids weren’t learning enough and that they needed to be better thinkers. “New Math” was the result.

In The New Math: A Political History, Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor of history Christopher J. Phillips tells of its rise and fall, centering the tale on the School Mathematics Study Group (SMSG), an entity created in earnest by government money during the Sputnik era: “Although originally funded to work on textbooks for the ‘college capable’ students in secondary schools, SMSG gradually expanded its operation, producing textbooks for every grade and type of student, including material for elementary schools, ‘culturally disadvantaged’ children,” etc. The ascension of New Math was thus partly due to routine mission creep found in well-funded bureaucracies.

At its onset, parents were more or less happy with the status quo. But education theorists and others were not. Students taught in the old way could cipher to the rule of three, but they didn’t know the why behind the how: “[O]ne generally accepted axiom was that math textbooks’ and teachers’ traditional reliance on memorization and regurgitation gave students a misleading sense of what mathematicians do and what mathematics was about.”

Yet is it really of interest what professional mathematicians do? Filling out grant requests, for instance? At any rate, what mathematics is about is something argued over by mathematicians themselves. This was true during the time of New Math…

Click the above link to get the PDF and read the rest (I think).