Saturday soapbox

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, to muse or amuse.

One of the most common mistakes made in reasoning is placing too heavy of a reliance on anecdotes (an anecdote is testimony of an event which happened to its teller or someone they either directly or indirectly know). While anecdotes may be helpful in navigating certain everyday scenarios, they should never be used when deciding matters of science. This is because a story (even if accurate) is only one data point. For example, if your grandfather has been smoking for 70 years without dying, this does not disprove that smoking causes lung cancer. Even when a lot of anecdotes are taken together, they are still very unhelpful in such matters. This is because personal testimony is subject to cherry picking, confirmation biases, and the severe fallibility of the human senses. Human beings, even when in groups, are subject to hysteria (see Salem With Trials and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon). It, unlike a trial study, has no mechanisms like placebos or double blind tests to eliminate these frailties of human reasoning.  Keep in mind however that I am not charging a certain position is wrong because its supporters have anecdotes about it. I am merely saying that there are many scenarios where anecdotes are not valid forms of justification. To prove that bigfoot is real, Buddhists are happier than people of other faiths, or that global warming is a hoax, one must do science. for info on the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, go here (and be prepared to be shocked): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Gasser_of_Mattoon source of picture: http://line-in.co.uk/illustration-9-plural-of-anecdote/

7 Responses to Saturday soapbox

  1. Andrei says:

    Check this out – it is fairly amazing

    A Rosie the Riveter original, still on the job at 93

    Like

  2. Pete George says:

    Plans by AgResearch to create hubs and gut regional research
    facilities is contrary to advise from within their own organisation.
    They seem to be hell bent on empire building regardless of expert
    opinion from within their own organisation, ignoring a risk of serious
    degradation of agricultural research.

    The ODT has obtained leaked documents: AgResearch executive overrules review team
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dune

    The ODT also rips into AgResearch in their editorial: AgResearch’s Invermay blunder
    http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/e

    Not even the Government and it’s ministers should be able to disagree
    with that. Time for them to step in. Nathan Guy? Steven Joyce? Bill
    English? Michael Woodhouse? Jacqui Dean?

    Like

  3. homepaddock says:

    I share your concerns but the only control the Minister has is to sack the board.

    Like

  4. homepaddock says:

    One of our fulltime staff is 83, another is 82.

    Like

  5. TraceyS says:

    The employee consultation process has to first focus on the exclusive concerns of employees. This is critical to ensuring procedural fairness. Letting the wider community influence that process would be wrong because it would introduce the potential to distract the focus away from the personal concerns of employees. By this I mean internal matters such as the terms and conditions of re-deployments and so on.

    In this case, the wider community are on the same page as the employees – but imagine if they were not. Imagine if they were saying yes, go ahead!! It would not be fair to let them influence a matter between an employer and its employees in that case would it? I doubt that it would be legal either, whether the wider community was supportive of, or opposed to the changes.

    The process between the employer and employees is necessarily separate from a process to consider concerns from the wider community. Therefore I think that the ODT et al. are premature in their criticism of the process to date and should know better than to expect they can interfere with sensitive employment processes.

    Now that the staff consultation process is complete, there can be consultation with others.

    Is it a concern that the executive didn’t change their direction based on employee consultation? No. That process is not an opportunity for employees to decide the future direction of an organisation. Now AgResearch must consider the wider interests which can take in a much broader range of concerns. And might I add that hopefully they will.

    Like

  6. Andrei says:

    It’s a float that has been banned in today’s Blossom festival and on this blog at least nobody (at time of posting) has felt that this decision was in anyway inappropriate (see post above: “Parade no place for politics”).

    In Belgrade it is a whole parade scheduled for later today that has been canned. A “gay pride” parade – something immensely unpopular with the citizens of Belgrade and greater Serbia. Indeed the majority of those who would have marched had it gone ahead would not have been Serbs but Western Europeans who have traveled to Serbia to flaunt their stuff protected by 5000+ policemen so unpopular this event would have been with the local population.

    This is something being imposed from the outside not only on Serbia but on many Nations of the East particularly Orthodox ones.

    Now if you read about the cancellation of this event you will be led to believe this shows how backward Serbs are but I ask you honestly to look into yourselves and reflect that if it is OK to ban a float in Alexandra because it might offend a significant number of the population why would cancelling a parade in Belgrade that would deeply offend 90%+ of the local population be any different?

    Like

  7. TraceyS says:

    I’d equally object to a pro-gay float in the Blossom Festival.

    Like

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