The difference between 95 and 100%

24 Sep


Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


10 responses to “The difference between 95 and 100%

  1. meursault1942

    September 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    “Uncertainty is inherent in every scientific judgment,” said Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Thomas Burke. “Will the sun come up in the morning?” Scientists know the answer is yes, but they can’t really say so with 100 percent certainty because there are so many factors out there that are not quite understood or under control.

    This is something my scientist friends have drilled into my head over the years. Scientists really don’t like saying that something is 100 percent certain because there is always a chance, however infinitesimally small, that it isn’t. And that’s one of those things that doesn’t translate well from a scientific setting to a general-society setting (much like the difference in definition of the word “theory” in those two settings)–people take the fact that scientists won’t say “100 percent certain” to mean “they don’t have any idea and are just taking wild guesses.”

    • rustybrown2012

      September 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      “And that’s one of those things that doesn’t translate well from a scientific setting to a general-society setting”

      Unfortunately, the problem is much greater than this. I think the public at large would be in a better position to accept things like scientific uncertainty and consensus if not for the Republican’s and big business’s willful, organized misinformation campaigns. Stem cells, evolution, environmental impact, global warming, the list goes on and on. They want the public to doubt science when science gets in their way, which is fairly often. And their lies resonate with and are repeated by the dishonest and/or the ignorant, like Cluster.

      • mitchethekid

        September 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

        Well, I wouldn’t specify Cluster as being dishonest per se, because that implies intention, but rather I would say misinformed. And simplistic. Because simplicity is easier. No offense against him or any other. But both you and I Rusty are people who have a scientific POV and accept the precepts of scientific inquiry as truth. Often times unquestionable truth but to convey our understanding to those who are unable to think in the abstract is futile. I’d rather love my brother than to fight with him. Especially when I know I am right!! haHAha!

      • watsonthethird

        September 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

        What is that theory that essentially states that experts are less certain of things than the ignorant? There’s a name for it, but I forget. But the gist is that the more one knows about a subject, the less certainty one has. And conversely, those with the least knowledge tend to be the most certain.

      • mitchethekid

        September 25, 2013 at 7:35 am

        The uncertainty principal??

      • rustybrown2012

        September 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm


        I characterized him as dishonest and/or ignorant, leaving room for one, the other, or both. I don’t know what Clusters deal is, but concerning AGW those are the choices. Or perhaps he’s just thick. He may be misinformed as you say but clearly in this forum alone he’s been given facts and settled knowledge and rejected them, so we can now safely conclude he’s willfully ignorant. Yet I’ve also detected and called out dishonesty in his arguments – constructing ludicrous straw men, repeating talking points which have previously been debunked, the seemingly purposeful mangling of someones argument. Look, this is not flattering for Cluster but let’s not pretend it’s something else – ignorance should be identified as ignorance to the benefit of all including the ignorant.

      • mitchethekid

        September 25, 2013 at 7:34 am

        Several yrs ago, a book came out entitled The Republican War on Science. Great read.

  2. mitchethekid

    September 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Ah, you mean the uncertainty principal. Of which I am a fan! Probability and Outcome would be a great name for a band.

    • watsonthethird

      September 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

      There is also the Dunning-Kruger effect:

      The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

      Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University conclude, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others”.

      • mitchethekid

        September 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

        Sounds like The Peter Principal. Or maybe The Peter Principal should be call The Dunning-Kruger effect for dummies.

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