The Odds

Published on Friday, 16 September 2011

Consider this bit of trivia: the average salary of an actor is comparable to the average salary of an accountant; however, few if any accountants are unemployed in their line of work, but few make 6 figure incomes. Almost none make 7 figures. Compare this to actors. For an interesting (if a bit long winded) exploration into the limits of predictive science, how statistics can be clarifying in one circumstance and confounding in another, visit your public library and check out The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Here are some select quotes from the book. Here is a summary of the Black Swan theory. And here's a review from The Guardian. We can easily see how those we disagree with fall into logical traps and emotionally-driven deceptions. The harder challenge is knowing when we're the dupes. How can we each be better at deciphering when the numbers are being used to fool us, when our predictive abilities are not as good as we think, when our intuition is not tempered by careful analysis?