RE: [asa] Trees don't lie

From: Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net>
Date: Sat Mar 21 2009 - 19:28:20 EDT

Hi Glenn: Well for however long you stay, I for one plan to enjoy your
presence. (I don't know about "great and smart," but "wily and shrewd" I
might admit to.) In the article you referenced there was a small red
herring.

 

"Tetlock has spent two decades asking foreign policy experts to make
predictions about world events, and then tracking their accuracy."

 

This was an article about politics which I would submit is vastly different
than scientific predictions from scientists using scientific data and
evidence. His conclusion about policy predictions from political pundits
was, "Expertise and experience made very little difference." In the area of
political "world events" he may be right. World events are fairly difficult
to predice as there is no easy to discern chain of cause and effects,
something that can be seen in many areas of science.

 

I do agree that predictions pertaining to the future decay in accuracy with
the length of time to the predicted events. Of course, that probably wasn't
the question :>)

 

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 5:20 PM
To: Dick Fischer
Cc: ASA
Subject: Re: [asa] Trees don't lie

 

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_phil
ip_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/200
9/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 <mailto:dickfischer@verizon.net> Fischer

To: 'Glenn <mailto:glennmorton@entouch.net> Morton'

Cc: ASA <mailto:asa@calvin.edu>

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 <http://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 19:30:21 2009

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