At 11:08 PM 6/8/2005, Jesse Mazer wrote:

You should instead calculate the probability that a story would contain *any* combination of meaningful words associated with the Manhattan project. This is exactly analogous to the fact that in my example, you should have been calculating the probability that *any* combination of words from the list of 100 would appear in a book title, not the probability that the particular word combination "sun", "also", and "rises" would appear.

RM: Are you suggesting that a fair analysis would be to wait until Google Print has the requisite number of books available, download the text, then sic Mathematica onto them to look for word associations linked with a target? What limits would you place on this (if any?) Or would this be a useless (though certainly do-able) exercise?


. . . Would it be fair to test for ESP. . .

We're not testing for ESP--only out-of-causal-order gestalts in popular literature that are associated with similar gestalts in literature (or national) events taking place at some future time. There might be a fine--though humdrum and unpredictable---explanation for this sort of business. Or it might be explained by some of the more offbeat analytical procedures---say, involving exponential or Poisson probabilities as applied to delayed choice events. Who knows? While I wouldn't rule it out, I personally don't think the eventual answer--if there is one---will involve anything as humdrum as ESP. And if this sort of thing is to be expected in the course of publishing events, then there should be a mathematical formula that can predict it, given the input variables (which is why I think exponential or Poisson might be involved.)

Again, my concern is that scientists are too willing to prejudge something before diving into it.

OK, but this is a tangent that has nothing to do with the issue I raised in my posts about the wrongness of selecting the target (whose probability of guessing you want to calculate) using hindsight knowledge of what was actually guessed.

As a former fed, I would wholeheartedly disagree. There is a grand tradition of avoiding analysis by whatever means are available, including "hindsight knowledge" invalidating the correlation. In other words, you shouldn't ever mine for data. Thankfully, that admonition is routinely ignored by many biostatisticians.

If you don't want to discuss this specific issue then say so--I am not really interested in discussing the larger issue of what the "correct" way to calculate the probability of the Heinlein coincidences would be, I only wanted to talk about this specific way in which *your* method is obviously wrong.

Thank you. (Finally!!!) Whew! That sentence has validated the entire horrid exercise. May I quote you???

Like I said before, any method that could be invented by someone who didn't know in advance about Heinlein's story would avoid this particular mistake. . .

. . .another money quote. . .

*although it might suffer from other flaws*.

This one too!!!

Regards and Thanks Again!

Rich M.

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