Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

From: Glenn Morton <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Date: Sat Mar 21 2009 - 17:20:15 EDT

Hi Dick, I don't know how long I am going to stay. I work 12 hours per day 4 days per week, then I usually work 2 days per week on my ranch, where there is no internet, and then take Sunday off. this weekend is different as my son and his family are here so I will go to the ranch tomorrow. But thanks for the kind words.

Dick wrote:

>>Now having said that, and having a little experience in how you occasionally let emotions prevail, you said:

"And one thing that should have been learned, but apparently hasn't been by many in the field of science, NO ONE can predict the state of a nonlinear system after a certain period of time. The physicist is as helpless as the plumber or homeless person and thus, all guesses will have the equivalent chance of success."

On reflection, I'm sure you would agree that someone well-educated and skilled in analytical thinking would be better able to use inductive reasoning on a variety of subjects even some ourside his/her immediate area of expertise. Also, data and evidence available to all in this age of the Internet can be marshalled in favor of one opinion versus another. Again, a skilled physicist or any other qualified scientist should be better capable of that than a "plumber" in your example.<<<<

Emotions or not I would say that you missed something very important. no one can predict the state of a nonlinear system 'after a certain time" Early in the evolution of the system's state it might be quasi predictable, but eventually utter chaos will reign and no one not even you, as great and smart as you are, could predict the future state.

Here is an example of a program written by humans who understood the program:

"Back in 1992, General Motors were having trouble managing the automated painting of trucks at an assembly plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Machines in 10 different paint booths could paint trucks as they came off the line, but because the trucks came off in an unpredictable order and the painting machines needed sporadic maintenance and repair, finding an efficient assignment of trucks to booths seemed impossible."
"General Motors' visionary engineer Dick Morley suggested letting the painting machines find a schedule themselves. He set out some simple rules by which the various machines would "bid" for newly available paint jobs, trying their best to stay busy while taking account of the need for maintenance and so on. The results were remarkable, if a little weird. The system saved General Motors more than $1 million each year in paint alone. Yet the line ran to a schedule that no one could predict, made up on the fly by the machines themselves as they responded to emerging needs." Mark Buchanan, "Law and Disorder," New Scientist, Aug 9, 2008, p. 28

>>>A quickie example of that would be to ask a number of meterologists to tell the high temperature on a particular day that is one year in the future. Take the average number from the estimates of 100 trained meterologists, versus a similar average from 100 "homesless persons." Wouldn't we expect the meterologists to be closer to the real number? Or take the NCAA brackets filled in by sports analysts versus one be Barak Obama. Would you not expect the sports analysts to have a better percentage of correct picks?<<<

You should read http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/10/05/a_talk_with_philip_tetlock/

and "At first, Tetlock's ongoing study of 82,361 predictions by 284 pundits (most but not all of them American) came up empty. He initially looked at whether accuracy was related to having a Ph.D., being an economist or political scientist rather than a blowhard journalist, having policy experience or access to classified information, or being a realist or neocon, liberal or conservative. The answers were no on all counts. The best predictor, in a backward sort of way, was fame: the more feted by the media, the worse a pundit's accuracy. And therein lay Tetlock's first clue. The media's preferred pundits are forceful, confident and decisive, not tentative and balanced. They are, in short, hedgehogs, not foxes."http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2009/February/opinion_February75.xml&section=opinion&col=

It may be a waste of money, but the experts don't know what the impact of their changes to our lifestyle will be. They have to assume that the sun will continue making sunspots and out putting a certain amount of energy, when in fact we are about 2 years late for the start of the next sunspot cycle and the sun in emitting much less energy than it should be. That partly explains why it is cold. The GW and expert conclusion that a rise in CO2 will heat the earth depends upon an assumption that all else remains constant--which it won't

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dick Fischer
  To: 'Glenn Morton'
  Cc: ASA
  Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 3:01 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] Trees don't lie

  Hi Glenn:

  I hope you are back, we missed you. Now having said that, and having a little experience in how you occasionally let emotions prevail, you said:

  "And one thing that should have been learned, but apparently hasn't been by many in the field of science, NO ONE can predict the state of a nonlinear system after a certain period of time. The physicist is as helpless as the plumber or homeless person and thus, all guesses will have the equivalent chance of success."

  On reflection, I'm sure you would agree that someone well-educated and skilled in analytical thinking would be better able to use inductive reasoning on a variety of subjects even some ourside his/her immediate area of expertise. Also, data and evidence available to all in this age of the Internet can be marshalled in favor of one opinion versus another. Again, a skilled physicist or any other qualified scientist should be better capable of that than a "plumber" in your example.

  A quickie example of that would be to ask a number of meterologists to tell the high temperature on a particular day that is one year in the future. Take the average number from the estimates of 100 trained meterologists, versus a similar average from 100 "homesless persons." Wouldn't we expect the meterologists to be closer to the real number? Or take the NCAA brackets filled in by sports analysts versus one be Barak Obama. Would you not expect the sports analysts to have a better percentage of correct picks?

  Personally, I think it is a waste of money to change our living patterns in an effort to change the world's temperature. Improving the quality of our air and water is another story.

  Dick Fischer, GPA president

  Genesis Proclaimed Association

  "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"

  www.genesisproclaimed.org

  -----Original Message-----
  From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Glenn Morton
  Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 3:06 PM
  To: George Murphy; William Hamilton; mrb22667@kansas.net
  Cc: asa
  Subject: Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

  George wrote Saturday, March 21, 2009 10:11 AM

> I agree that in some fields "expertise" is overrated. It's pretty funny,

> in a gallow humors way, to hear the argument that financial firms have to

> pay big bonuses in order to hold on to the people whose "expertise" has

> driven the company, & maybe the country, into the ground. OTOH there's a

> populist temptation to debunk the idea of expertise because then "we're

> just as good as they are." & it's not clear that being able to predict

> the future is always the best criterion.

  There is no doubt that a physicist knows the equations and where it comes to

  deterministic systems, the physicist will do way better than anyone else.

  But, most systems we humans deal with are decidedly NOT linear or

  deterministic. They are non-linear. And one thing that should have been

  learned, but apparently hasn't been by many in the field of science, NO ONE

  can predict the state of a nonlinear system after a certain period of time.

  The physicist is as helpless as the plumber or homeless person and thus, all

  guesses will have the equivalent chance of success.

  that is why experts differ on what the stock market will do, what the

  weather will be like next week etc. And when it comes to global warming,

  everyone is absolutely sure that they know what this grand nonlinear system

  we call climate will do. They are acting as if it is a linear system when it

  is decidedly nonlinear.

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Received on Sat Mar 21 17:20:17 2009

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