William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!



This is the permanent page for all things about Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics. E-copies can be had from Springer in EPUB and PDF formats.

Amazon now has a Kindle version!

The Big Gist

  1. All probability is conditional;
  2. Probability is not decision.

From those simple and proved truths flows these consequences:

  • Probability cannot discern cause;
  • Therefore no hypothesis test, by wee p-value or Bayes factor, should ever be used;
  • Therefore parameters are of no interest to man or beast;
  • Therefore verified probability models should be used in a predictive sense only;
  • Therefore to understand cause and provide explanation we must look to nature, essence, and power.

Therefore buy the book and be the first on your block to come to a wondrous, penetrating understanding of probability & statistics. Out with the new and in with the old! The older, better, and true understanding of cause and probability, that is. Eschew mathematics for the sake of mathematics, flee ad hocery in all its forms and wiles, and put probability to its intended real use!

This includes you, too, computer scientists, with your big deep data neural net machine “learning” fuzzy algorithms which are all probability models by (admittedly) cuter and more precious names.

Chapter Abstracts

Click here.


Click here.

Forward: Written by Steve Goldberg

Click here.

Additional Material

I’ll have questions for homework, errata for the errors placed by my enemies post production, podcasts, and more.

You—Yes, You—Are Doing Probability & Statistics Wrong — WMBriggs Podcast.

The Hierarchy Of Models: From Causal (Best) To Statistical (Worst)

Springer Official Site

Click here: Apparently you can buy individual chapters. Or an e-book.

Important student note: apparently many universities have a deal with Springer such that you can read the book on the universities’ library site. I haven’t found it at Cornell (where I have access) yet. Stay tuned here for future word.

Note: the more attractive cover image was provide as a gift by Wrath of Gnon.


Click to enlarge; re-size at leisure.

Two animated gifs are at this link.

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Other Books

Breaking the Law of Averages, class notes and a simple introduction to some of the main ideas of Uncertainty. Free PDF (recommended), or buy the hardcover.

So, You Think You’re Psychic?, a skeptical framework for testing for would-be psychics. Free PDF (recommended), or buy the hardcover. This was written long before I figured out the true meaning of probability. It’s due for a healthy update.


  1. Gene B. Walker

    July 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Perhaps these are overly picky things to consider:
    1) pg 3 , 3rd paragraph, consider change “… insist all triangles have … ” to “… insist all planar triangles have … ”
    2) of 4, 4th paragraph change “I don’t consider idealism to be on any interest.” to “I don’t consider idealism to be of any interest.”

  2. The book looks great, but will there be a paperback in due course? (it’s a bit pricey). Thanks.

  3. I’ll probably buy the book anyway and not wait for a paperback version (if any). Is it ok to post feedback, comments, questions, typos, here?

  4. Page 10 first paragraph under “Science and Scientism” should be

    “That radium *has* the atomic weight of w might be false…”

    and not

    “That radium does not have the atomic weight of w might be false…”

  5. My favorite Christmas gift. Many thanks to my lovely wife and to WMB.

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