Re: Clint & Robert on "Faith in Science"

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 25 Oct 1999 14:49:23 -0700 (PDT)

>> I know the laws of probability are real not because I BELIEVE
>> in it but because I CAN PROVE IT.

> <devil's advocacy>
> Ahem. I assert that you cannot prove it. Robert attacked probability on
> its strongest side... What would you say to this experiment?
> I assert that it is completely impossible for you to flip a coin 1 million
> times and have it turn up heads every time. When I say completely
> impossible, I mean that it will never EVER happen, no matter how many
> times you try.

> </devil's advocacy>

You're being very sloppy with your language and your thinking here. PROOF, as in absolute inviolable certainty, is irrelevant to reality. I can't PROVE the laws of probability, but that doesn't mean I have to have faith in them to make use of them. There _is_ a useful middle ground--committment. I have committed thousands of dollars over the years to my mastery of the laws of probability, and given the opportunity I will do so again, _until something better comes along_. Your million-coin-flip bet is a cop out; you know it isn't physically possible to test your theory within your lifetime, so you're safe. If you had any balls, you'd offer a bet that's feasible. I offer this one to any takers: flip an unmodified US dime 10 times. If it lands head-up all 10 times, I'll give you $100, otherwise I'll keep the dime.

This in no way means I have unlimited unshakable faith in the laws of probability. It just means I'm willing to bet $100 on them (because I know that on average, I make 0.24 cents every time I take this bet).

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC