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Archive for October, 2008

Science and the truth

In addition to ‘Stats and the truth’…

I had a great teacher for physics at my secondairy school. Apart from the fact he was a total nutjob, he had some great thoughts about different subjects ranging from religions to photocamera tripods. Some where just discardable but some where very interesting. Such as his thought about science.

In science, you are only making guesses. Estimations. You never quite know if what you have is the truth. For instance, you can count all ferns in the world and realise they’re all green, but you’re never certain. Never. You could never say “All ferns are green.”, because one purple fern, one miserable purple fern would destroy that theory.

This applies to basicly everything. You can’t even know if the fridgelight is switched off when you close the door!

This even goes well with the quote: “Conclusions happen when you get tired of thinking.”

Statistics and the truth

It’s scientifically proven: Black cars are 12% more involved in an accident. So, when buying a car, is it better to buy a white car?

It’s easy to think that way, but statistics don’t mean the world. Think a little bit further. Maybe there is a direct connection between the colour of the car and the amount of accidents, but maybe not.

Perhaps aggresive young drivers have a preference for black cars.

Sounds plausible right?

Well, if that’s the true reason, you can buy a black car without having to worry about an increased risk of a crash.

People are tempted to put a direct connection between statistic and reality, but you should look a little bit further.

How about the following:
At fires, there are a lot of firefighters around.

Does that mean firefighters are often pyromaniacs?

See what I’m trying to say?

Statistics aren’t everything