Wednesday, November 21, 2018

One in a hundred year events

On the news you often hear it is "the coldest it has been on thanksgiving day in 100 years"? How should you make sense of this?

Don't, first there is a huge implicit bias of the news, which is they like to report on rare events. You would not watch the news if the story line read something like "Hey Chris went to work today, and it was sunny today." Instead the news reports interesting stories which happen to be rare events. More importantly though is that things like temperature are dependent on the current state of the world, and that state constantly changes. Basically the probability distribution (more bayesian stats to come in this blog) for the weather on thanksgiving may have changed based on different factors.

Anyways there should be three major takeaways from this post.

1. News has a bias towards rare or interesting events, so the stuff you see on the news is not an accurate representation of the real world. I used weather here because that is relatively not politically charged and this blog will do its best to stick clear of politics.
2. Things happen as a function of the environment they are in.
3. Historical data is a very dangerous thing to use as the future is much different from the past.


Chris Haack

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