One of the inherent virtues of the Web is the greatest expansion of free speech in history. But it is fair to ask whether the Web will develop a taste for higher standards of evidence, citation, sourcing, vetting, and transparency than it does today.
While presenting at the Boston Museum of Science to about 200 museum-goers, I was able to run a modest experiment. Its purpose was to show that, contrary to some reports, people often show remarkable ability to deal with numbers and abstractions.
The idea that people are underestimated has spurred the creation of Book of Odds and I explored this issue recently at the Boston Museum of Science.
The subject of Book of Odds in its broadest sense is the relationship between the past and the future. If we have an accurate count of past events such as incidents of arson, how much can we infer about the likelihood of arson in the future?
The fallibility of famous men has been on display this season, with public men held “much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect” over the roaring flames of notoriety.
We are blessed by some of the most superb writers tackling the issues of probability, science, risk, prediction, and what can be learned about the future from our experience of the past. To help those who love Book of Odds or to help find gifts for those who do, we have suggested book gifts, some new and some older, but each remarkable in its own right in making sense of these topics.
With Tiger Woods’ personal life among the most talked about tempests in the public teapot, we have been asked by many sources about the odds of car accidents, golf accidents, and above all, male marital infidelity.
The numbers we can see are interesting, but so are the ones we can’t, the dark matter of the odds of everyday life.
When you propose to do something new people ask you whether it hasn’t already been done. Are you on a fool’s errand, about to put effort nto something already done? And if it hasn’t been done, why not? Won’t you encounter the same impediments which blocked others?