Fair and balanced

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The latest Partially Clips (click on the image for a larger version):

They don't get onto the news broadcasts much either.



8 Comments

  1. Mark F. said,

    February 20, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

    Well, the Fox News crowd probably thinks this is a parable about global warming.

  2. Mark Liberman said,

    February 20, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

    Mark F: Well, the Fox News crowd probably thinks this is a parable about global warming.

    My first thought was evolution. But it would fit a lot of issues, right across the political spectrum. The problem is that one person's windmill may be another's evil giant.

  3. Erik R. said,

    February 21, 2009 @ 3:48 am

    The problem is that one person's windmill may be another's evil giant.

    Nah. Occam's Razor is never used seriously by both sides of an argument. While a Creationist might attempt to say that "God did it" is not an extraordinary claim, I think they could be convinced that it is. After all, aren't supernatural and extraordinary sort of synonyms?

    Great comic. I love it when great metaphors survive centuries.

  4. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    February 21, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

    @Erik R.: I disagree. Occam's Razor is about the amount of additional speculation between {what you know to be true} and {what your explanation requires to be true}. For someone who knows/"knows" (with or without scare-quotes, take your pick) that G-d created the Universe, it doesn't take so much additional speculation to explain the current state of existence as the result of minimal change after a fully-formed recent Creation. (But obviously plenty of Creationists do believe in Evolution, so even a priori belief in Creation doesn't have to Occam's-Razor-out everything.)

  5. Bob Moore said,

    February 21, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

    Clearly Robert Balder is a Baysean. He is reminding us that we should consider the prior probabilities of evil giant and windmill. And he is also right that Bayseans don't seem to get invited to parties very much :-)

  6. Mark Johnson said,

    February 21, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

    I was about to say Bayesian, but I see Bob beat me to it!

    Mark

  7. NG Carter said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 6:01 am

    I thought it was obvious that he was making a brilliant restatement of Pascal's Wager.

  8. Mark Liberman said,

    February 24, 2009 @ 6:44 am

    @NG Carter: Your interpretation (Pascal's Wager) and Bob and Mark's interpretation (Bayesian inference) are not so far apart. If you read the Rev. Bayes' posthumous "Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances", you'll find passages like this one:

    Suppose a person has an expectation of receiving N, depending on an event the probability of which is P/N. Then (by definition 5) the value of his expectation is P, and therefore if the event fail, he loses that which in value is P; and if it happens he receives N, but his expectation ceases. His gain therefore is N − P. Likewise since the probability of the event is P/N, that of its failure (by corollary prop. 1) is (N−P)/N . But ( N−P)/N is to P/N as P is to N − P, i.e. the probability of the event is to the probability of it's failure, as his loss if it fails to his gain if it happens.

    (Note that this is not the way that the letters P — and N — would be used in a modern discussion.)

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