Author Topic: Episode #709  (Read 3287 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #709
« on: February 09, 2019, 11:58:14 AM »
News Items: Who Was Robin Hood, Medical Errors, Magnetic North Pole, Celery Juice, CRISPR Update; Who’s That Noisy; Name That Logical Fallacy; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 06:48:04 PM »
SoF alert:

(click to show/hide)

Another explanation of the calculation that there’s a 50/50 chance of two unrelated persons sharing a birthday is with 23 people.  With one person, there’s a 365/365 chance of that person having a birthday.  There’s a 364/365 chance of a second person not having the same birthday of the first, and there’s a 363/365 chance of a third person not having the same birthday as either of the first two people, working down to the 23rd person having a 343/365 chance of not having the same birthday as any of the previous 22 people.

So to calculate the probability of one of the 23 people not sharing at least one birthday, you multiple all the separate probabilities together.  That is 365/365 x 364/365 x 363/365 x 362/365 x ... x 343/365.  You’re multiplying 22 numbers, all less than 1 - and getting progressively smaller, which means than the final product rapidly deviates from 1 (365/365).  And the chance of having at least two people sharing a birthday is 1 minus the number you’ve just calculated, which is getting progressively smaller the more people you add (a probability of 1 is certainty).

Regarding celery juice.  The first thing I thought of was - what does it taste like?  My passion is carrot juice, which I love.  I tried a blender, but the taste is rather bland.  I use a juicer.  From 500 g of carrots, I can get 250 g of carrot juice, which has an intense taste.  I don’t waste the pulp.  I mix it with yoghurt.  Or microwave it with a scrambled egg.  Or tofu.  I can eat it with a vegetable casserole.  Or eat it on its own.  Or use it as a spread on bread.

The only downside is that I’m eating 500 g of carrots, but fortunately excessive carrots appears to be relatively benign beyond carotenaemia and increased lung cancer in smokers and ex-smokers.

I tried juicing Brussel sprouts when I’d purchased too many of them, but that was a disaster.  From 350 g of sprouts, I got just 50 g of juice.
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Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 06:58:42 PM »
Carrot juice is a good starting point. I found a stalk of celery and a clove of garlic added to a kilo of carrots gave a unique juice flavour not unlike butterscotch. I think that's the recipe, that was many years ago.

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 07:08:33 PM »
Carrot juice is a good starting point. I found a stalk of celery and a clove of garlic added to a kilo of carrots gave a unique juice flavour not unlike butterscotch. I think that's the recipe, that was many years ago.

I think I’ll try making celery juice on its own to see the proportion of juice I can get.  And what it tastes like.  I’m not keen on adding ingredients that have a strong taste, such as garlic.  Someone told me that adding ginger ‘improved’ the taste of carrot juice (completely unnecessary) and I tried with a small piece that turned out to be too large, and it made the carrot juice almost completely undrinkable.  On the other hand, if I used too much garlic at least I could be certain of getting a carriage to myself on the train.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 09:05:08 PM »
Today at the grocery store (before I had listened to this episode) I heard a woman asking a worker in the produce department if there was celery. I butted in and told her there was celery right where I was standing, a few feet from her. “But that’s not organic!” she said. I told her there’s no difference but the cost, and she waved her hand as if she was trying to wave smoke away from her eyes. When I listened to the segment on the show later, I realized that she was probably looking to make celery juice so she could take part in the latest fad. How fucking stupid do you have to be to believe every fucking food fad that comes down the pike?

So after all the hand-waving about why the letter-writer was wrong about probability calculations, they never did answer her direct question, which was, “What is the formula?” I suspect that maybe Steve and the rogues didn’t actually know the formula. But for crying out loud, they could have looked it up for the segment and given the woman the courtesy of a direct answer. Thanks to Bachfiend for citing it above, because it’s been 53 years since I took trigonometry and advanced algebra and studied probabilities. But if the letter writer doesn’t read this forum, her question goes unanswered except for Steve’s “No, you’re wrong,” and “We did an experiment.” This was a fail. Just recite the formula!

On translation: I worked as a translator in a legal aid office, and I can assure you that if I were asked to translate the same document twice, the results would not be identical. The reason is that nothing has an exact translation to any other language. Translation is an art. You capture the meaning (in the case of a legal document) or the feel and tone (in the case of literature) or sometimes you try for the sound, in the case of poetry. But there’s no one unique exact “correct” translation, so even the same translator will use different words when translating a document a second time.

A better test of the crackpot who claims to talk ET than asking him to make a second translation would be to analyze the sounds he makes (as Cara hinted at) to see if he’s using exclusively sounds that exist in his native language. It’s unlikely that the “people” of Venus and Grumpus B and whatever other planets and stars he claims to know the languages of would use exclusively the sounds that exist in English. Assuming they speak at all.
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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 10:00:17 PM »
They did outline how to understand the problem, but the math itself is not especially meaningful without a bunch of discussion combinations and permutations that I think would be out of scope for the show. They also said there are a lot of good explanations online, and there are. Here's one:

https://betterexplained.com/articles/understanding-the-birthday-paradox/
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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2019, 10:01:39 PM »
Today at the grocery store (before I had listened to this episode) I heard a woman asking a worker in the produce department if there was celery. I butted in and told her there was celery right where I was standing, a few feet from her. “But that’s not organic!” she said. I told her there’s no difference but the cost, and she waved her hand as if she was trying to wave smoke away from her eyes. When I listened to the segment on the show later, I realized that she was probably looking to make celery juice so she could take part in the latest fad. How fucking stupid do you have to be to believe every fucking food fad that comes down the pike?

So after all the hand-waving about why the letter-writer was wrong about probability calculations, they never did answer her direct question, which was, “What is the formula?” I suspect that maybe Steve and the rogues didn’t actually know the formula. But for crying out loud, they could have looked it up for the segment and given the woman the courtesy of a direct answer. Thanks to Bachfiend for citing it above, because it’s been 53 years since I took trigonometry and advanced algebra and studied probabilities. But if the letter writer doesn’t read this forum, her question goes unanswered except for Steve’s “No, you’re wrong,” and “We did an experiment.” This was a fail. Just recite the formula!

On translation: I worked as a translator in a legal aid office, and I can assure you that if I were asked to translate the same document twice, the results would not be identical. The reason is that nothing has an exact translation to any other language. Translation is an art. You capture the meaning (in the case of a legal document) or the feel and tone (in the case of literature) or sometimes you try for the sound, in the case of poetry. But there’s no one unique exact “correct” translation, so even the same translator will use different words when translating a document a second time.

A better test of the crackpot who claims to talk ET than asking him to make a second translation would be to analyze the sounds he makes (as Cara hinted at) to see if he’s using exclusively sounds that exist in his native language. It’s unlikely that the “people” of Venus and Grumpus B and whatever other planets and stars he claims to know the languages of would use exclusively the sounds that exist in English. Assuming they speak at all.

Whenever I pick up organic food in the supermarket, I put it back on the shelf.  I must remember to buy some carrots today (I forgot yesterday).  I buy the cheapest ones I can - the odd misshapen ones.  Once a carrot has gone through the juicer, there’s no difference.  If I remember, I’ll buy some celery to give it a try.

I was going to mention the ‘lottery fallacy,’ but forgot.  Many years ago, I think it was in the Daily Mail, a journalist wrote a story about a man winning first division in Lotto twice 5 months apart.  And the journalist then stated that the odds against winning division 1 is 5 million to 1, so the odds against winning division 1 twice is 25 trillion to 1, which is wrong.  The chance against a named specified person playing Lotto once and once only and winning division 1 is 5 million to 1.  And the chance against a named specified person playing Lotto twice and twice only and winning division 1 both times is 25 trillion to 1.

But as noted, there are many (foolish) people playing Lotto every week for many years (most of whom are lucky to win a pittance).  Someone, somewhere, sometime will win it twice.
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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2019, 10:09:37 PM »
They did outline how to understand the problem, but the math itself is not especially meaningful without a bunch of discussion combinations and permutations that I think would be out of scope for the show. They also said there are a lot of good explanations online, and there are. Here's one:

https://betterexplained.com/articles/understanding-the-birthday-paradox/

Good, thanks.  That is a much better method for calculating it than mine.  So much so, that I’ve taken a copy to try out later and in other situations.
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Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2019, 11:00:36 PM »
I know I'm going to sound like an arrogant jerk, but I gotta say this. I can't believe that the SGU is treating this like some kind of complicated math problem. This is a middle-school level exercise.

I think Steve's explanation was a disservice to the audience, because he made it seem like some kind of sophisticated calculation.

Sorry, just had to vent. I will try to be less of a condescending jerk in the future.

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2019, 11:04:49 PM »
I was going to mention the ‘lottery fallacy,’ but forgot.  Many years ago, I think it was in the Daily Mail, a journalist wrote a story about a man winning first division in Lotto twice 5 months apart.  And the journalist then stated that the odds against winning division 1 is 5 million to 1, so the odds against winning division 1 twice is 25 trillion to 1, which is wrong.  The chance against a named specified person playing Lotto once and once only and winning division 1 is 5 million to 1.  And the chance against a named specified person playing Lotto twice and twice only and winning division 1 both times is 25 trillion to 1.

But as noted, there are many (foolish) people playing Lotto every week for many years (most of whom are lucky to win a pittance).  Someone, somewhere, sometime will win it twice.

If you win the lottery at 5 million to 1 odds the chances of you winning the same lottery again are 5 million to one.
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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2019, 05:22:51 AM »
I was going to mention the ‘lottery fallacy,’ but forgot.  Many years ago, I think it was in the Daily Mail, a journalist wrote a story about a man winning first division in Lotto twice 5 months apart.  And the journalist then stated that the odds against winning division 1 is 5 million to 1, so the odds against winning division 1 twice is 25 trillion to 1, which is wrong.  The chance against a named specified person playing Lotto once and once only and winning division 1 is 5 million to 1.  And the chance against a named specified person playing Lotto twice and twice only and winning division 1 both times is 25 trillion to 1.

But as noted, there are many (foolish) people playing Lotto every week for many years (most of whom are lucky to win a pittance).  Someone, somewhere, sometime will win it twice.

If you win the lottery at 5 million to 1 odds the chances of you winning the same lottery again are 5 million to one.

Only if you play the lottery once and only once after winning the lottery.  The chances of your winning increases the more times you play the lottery after winning once.  The chances of you winning at least once if you play the lottery another one hundred times is appreciably greater than 5 million to one against than if you play it just once (but still pathetically minimal).

If you don’t understand this then you don’t understand chance.
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Offline lucek

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2019, 08:21:20 AM »
Spotted my mistake I'm now close enough now.My math.

Simple mistake now my numbers of 49.4 for 22 and 52.8 for 23 are within a good margin of error of the calculated numbers.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 08:49:30 AM by lucek »
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2019, 01:03:46 PM »
As for the historicity of various individuals, I think that was a very interesting discussion. However, it seems rather strange to me to doubt the existence of William the Conqueror. The Norman conquest of England was arguably an event that altered the course of world history, and certainly forever changed the culture and language of England. To remove William from the picture would require a lot of explaining. This is rather different from doubting the historicity of various sages, like Jesus or Confucius. In those cases there were the worldly powers that picked up on their (attributed) sayings.

It would be awesome if the SGU had an academic historian as guest on the podcast. I think the knowledge acquired in skepticism from could very much benefit the field of history, and at the same time, none of the rogues to my knowledge has any background in history, thereby a historian could explain how traditional history views various events and persons, and why they think they are authentic. A mutually beneficial affair. :)

Offline Rueful Rabbit

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2019, 03:24:46 PM »
I know that some mathematical problems are hard to describe in spoken language, but I think mathfiend's explanation of the birthday problem woud be quite easy to explain in the podcast. I wish you would include more (or even any) mathematical stories in the podcast. For example, there was a new Mersenne prime number number discovered recently.  If you don't have the experrtise to explain mathematical issues, I'm sure sure you could find an appropriate guest now and then to do so. It's sometimes debatable whether maths is a science, but its part of the STEM acronym, so it deserves a mention now and then.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #709
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2019, 04:46:25 PM »
My mother, when she was a young woman (this would be circa 1945) won the smallest prize in the Irish Sweepstakes. IIRC it was around $50, which in today’s money would be worth around $680. She decided that having won once, she was unlikely to win again and never gambled or bought another lottery ticket for the rest of her life.

Her reasoning was right for the wrong reason. Her chances of winning a second time were the same as her chances of winning the first time. But that chance was vanishingly small.

The lottery has been described as a tax on stupidity.
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