What Does Probability Mean in Your Profession?

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62 thoughts on “What Does Probability Mean in Your Profession?

  1. Long range weather forcast

    0———————0.6——————1
    Same as————–|—————Something
    average—————|————–else
    for last 100———-|
    years
    (i.e partly sunny,
    partly cloudy,
    neither hot nor cold)

  2. Difficulty of the Questions on Your Next Actuarial Exam

    0——————————————-0.95–0.9999–1
    Oh my god these people —————really——-piece
    are crazy I’ve never seen —————tough——-of
    anything like these problems ————–!——–cake
    in 10,000 hours of studying!

  3. You forgot to mention the biostatistician, for whom probability can be described as the likelihood that your research found as association between two outcomes, assuming for the moment that there really IS NO association. Therefore, low probability means high likelihood of an association….:)

  4. Particle physicists interpreting p-values:

    0-95.45% A fluke and random noise. Consistent with the null hypothesis.
    95.45%-99.73% Probably a fluke unless it supports my pet theory in which case it is a strong hint of new physics that will likely be revealed in future experiments.
    99.73%-99.9937% Worth making wild speculations about in a paper on the off chance it is true and I win the Nobel Price. Less than a 50% chance of actually being real.
    99.9937%-99.999942% This might actually be real. Leak rumors to all of your friends prior to publication to show how much inside information you have on the future of physics.
    -99.999943%+ True

  5. “0” for the philosopher is more properly know as “Bullshit,” per Harry Frankfurt.

    And perhaps they even have some points off the line altogether, the “not even wrong” statements.

  6. And let’s not forget tax lawyers with their comfort levels in tax opinion letters.
    In the US it is common practice for corporations to ask their tax counsel’s opinion on any contemplated transactions whenever in doubt. The lawyers then analyze the matter and write down their thoughts in a letter. The probability of prevailing in court in the event the IRS challenges the proposed activity is expressed using one of the following terms:

    Will 90-95%
    Should 70-75%
    More likely than not >50%
    Substantial authority 35-40%
    Realistic possibility of success 33.3%
    Reasonable basis 20-30%
    Not frivolous ??

  7. We use statistics to hide an underlying lack of understanding that would allow us to build a deterministic model of the phenomenon.

    1. Sadly, it seems the only two walks of life in which we can actually achieve deterministic models are projectile motion and “will the commissioner of the pro sports league make a stupid decision.”

      1. And projectile motion is questionable: NASA corrects a spacecrafts course half way to Mars because our “theoretical” models only work in labs.

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