statistical reasoning in “The Simpsons”, part two

In a previous post, I wrote about how Lisa Simpson applied statistical reasoning during an episode of The Simpsons. Another recent episode (“The Saga of Carl Carlson”, aired 19 May 2013) demonstrated probabilistic thinking: At the science museum, the Simpsons family enters the Hall of Probability: There they see a demonstration of the binomial distribution, with […]

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21504 to 1 odds the sun will rise tomorrow: an illustration of Bayesian reasoning

The following preposterous case illustrates the Bayesian worldview: Prior estimate If you ask a mathematically-gifted newborn for the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow, they might reply: “The probability that the sun will rise tomorrow follows a beta distribution with parameters a = b = 2.” Since the mean of the above distribution is […]

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the lunar cycle: not a partner in crime

Emily Williams and Stacie Dutton, SETEC Astronomy, San Francisco, California, USA Despite abundant scientific evidence refuting the connection, the “lunar effect” persists as a common explanation for temporal variation in human behavior. Adherents of this idea implicate the lunar cycle in outcomes as diverse as lost elections and hemophilic episodes. We find the myth woven […]

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werewolf transcriptome conjecture

Lycanthropy—the sudden transformation of individuals into wolf-human chimeras during full moon periods—remains one of the least understood medical conditions persisting today. Researchers find investigation of the phenomenon doubly confounded by social stigma (who wants to tell a scientist that they are a werewolf?) and sampling difficulty (how many werewolves will actually sit still for a […]

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