Monthly Archives: November 2014

The GMO plot thickens, in a funny way…

The GMO plot thickens, in a funny way. I thought that the GMO “experts” are making errors in logic and risk but I realize they do not understand their own claims in their research and contradict them. Many are critical on our focus on “absence of evidence” as “nonscientific” yet their own work is based on this approach (that is, put the weight on the side of absence of evidence)… I repeat, in their own works. Their papers need to abide by a certain statistical procedure yet most don’t know what it is about. Looks like they hire some staff person to process data or use some computer.

For standard statistical theory doesn’t allow “acceptance”, it only allows “failure to reject”. Even when someone in prose says “accept that” he mathematically means “failed to reject at…”. Similarly, when someone is indicted, he is treated as innocent unless proven otherwise. This principle is adopted by scientific journals (remember that statisticians are the “evidence” police). This is a big thing and it is ironic.

The fact that statistics is hard for scientists AND they need to use it (as part of their own canon) means they rely on computers or some statistician who happens to be passing by… We mentioned that >50% of published neurobiology papers in “prestigious” journals making comparisons make an elementary (but severe) statistical mistake. But it looks like things are a lot, a lot worse.

P.S. As I show in SILENT RISK, acceptance can be done but it needs to be nonprobabilistic s.a. “there exists at least one black swan as I have seen one”. As such it is never part of hypothesis testing.

via The GMO plot thickens, in a funny way. I thought… – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We have decided to answer one review of our Precautionary Principle paper…

We have decided to answer one review of our Precautionary Principle paper with respect to GMOs, written as a continuation of the original paper, and in a way to make our idea of tail risk accessible to biologists so they can connect to their discipline.

“For GMOs, all contexts are foreign in this sense as their construction process bypassed the normal coevolutionary context (…) all ecosystems have evolved in the absence of GMOs.”…/social/…/responsetrevorcharles.html

We have decided to answer one review of our… – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Response to review by Trevor Charles re: Precautionary Principle | NECSI

A few days ago, Trevor Charles posted a review of our paper entitled “The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)”. Here we provide a response.

Thank you for the review of our paper. We will provide a point by point response below to your comments. Since you have focused on biological questions it is important for us to emphasize that we did not perform a “statistical analysis” (which is inherently evidentiary and data based and anchored in biological experiments). Instead we are engaged in a rigorous analysis of risk as it is derived from mathematical probability theory. Many of the citations you are asking for fall within the “carpenter fallacy” that we present in the text, i.e. that discussions about carpentry are not relevant to and distract from identifying the risks associated with gambling even though the construction of a roulette wheel involves carpentry. Mathematical probability-related arguments do not require biological citations. At the same time we have striven to explain how the biological context maps onto the risk analysis so that the connection between the two is more apparent to those who are focused on biology. For this reason we are providing the responses below. As a general comment, it would be very helpful for biologists who are contemplating or engaging in engineering strategies to read about the failures of systems engineering discussed in the text (Section VIII). This should lead to a better understanding about why the issue is not biology per se, but about the nature of engineering of complex systems in cases that carry high potential harm, for example as has been found in modernization of the Air Traffic Control system. Reading that discussion should establish a better context for a conversation about the risks in biological engineering.

via Response to review by Trevor Charles re: Precautionary Principle | NECSI.

Mapping Payoffs (pdf)

This is a mathematical-legal attempt at formally mapping payoffs and assessing their memberships in precisely defined classes. By legal we mean as expressed explicitly in a codified term sheet, legal contract, or formal legal code, which naturally converge to the mathematical definitions. The aims is showing the impossibility of verbalistic discussion of risk and exposures and the corresponding biases, and shows how the gap in stochastic properties between the verbalistic and mathematical increases under fat tails. Many biases in the psychology-decision science literature (such as the overestimation of tail events, or the long shot bias in fat-tailed domains) are shown to simply result from misdefinitions or sloppy verbalism.

via MappingPayoffs.pdf.