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[XTalk] Grondin Re: Proof

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Random has a technical definition in statistics, e.g., ... http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/dir-030/_4423.htm How one obtains numbers by chance is
    Message 1 of 104 , Sep 2, 2002
      At 05:02 PM 9/2/2002 +0000, mwgrondin wrote:
      >--- Bob Schacht wrote:
      > > ... I want to point to a problem with the phrase "objectively
      > > selected," which post-modernists have taught us to distrust. The
      > > situation Mike describes is more akin to "haphazardly selected;"
      > > bias can be due to all kinds of things other than conscious intent.
      >Yes, 'haphazardly selected' is much better wording. The reason I put
      >my own phrase in scare-quotes is that I knew it wasn't quite right,
      >but I couldn't think of a better one at the time. However, I note
      >that you agree with Dave that new historical data (e.g., DSS and Nag
      >Hammadi) is _not_ presented to us "randomly", and you assert
      >categorically that "Haphazard is NOT the same as random!". Perhaps
      >you can speak about the distinction between them, since I can't
      >think of any substantial difference.

      "Random" has a technical definition in statistics, e.g.,
      >random number: 1. A number selected from a known set of numbers in such a
      >way that each number in the set has the same
      >probability of occurrence. 2. A number obtained by chance. 3. One of a
      >sequence of numbers considered appropriate for
      >satisfying certain statistical tests or believed to be free from
      >conditions that might bias the result of a calculation.

      How one obtains numbers "by chance" is also different from haphazard,
      because it must meet a more exacting standard.
      The first definition is illustrated by a roll of a die (dice is the
      plural): If the die is not "loaded," then if you roll the die enough times,
      each of the six faces will come up an equal number of times. The way you
      shake the die is supposed to obtain a result "by chance." In other words,
      no fair to hold the die in your fingers with the preferred number on top,
      and then drop the die an inch from the table top. In practice, "by chance"
      means the method of shaking the die is sufficiently complicated that the
      result cannot be predicted.

      Haphazard is not differentiated in popular speech from random, but it is
      technically different. Here's a secondary definition that touches on this
      >2: marked by great carelessness; "a most haphazard system of record
      > keeping"; "slapdash work"; "slipshod spelling"; "sloppy workmanship"
      > [syn: slapdash, slipshod, sloppy] adv :
      > without care; in a slapdash manner; "the Prime Minister was wearing a
      > gray suit and a white shirt with a
      > soft collar, but his neck had become thinner and the collar stood away
      > from it as if it had been bought
      > haphazard" [syn: haphazardly]
      > Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

      The missing piece in this definition is that we know that carelessness is
      not really random, but can be driven by subconscious processes that have
      distinct preferences.
      In other words, true random selection (in the statistician's sense)
      requires a great deal of care to eliminate sources of bias, whereas
      haphazard selection involves no care at all, and thereby opens the door to
      unconscious factors of bias.
      Does this help?

      > > "H is probable" is not a useful construction. Any hypothesis is
      > > "probable" in the sense of having a probability ranging between
      > > 0 and 100.
      >That's not what the word 'probable' means, Bob, and on reflection
      >I think you'll realize that.

      Well, OK, I was getting hung up on "probable" in an excessively literal sense.

      >'Probable' means 'likely to be true' (i.e. probability > 50%), not just
      >'possibly true' (i.e., probability > 0). ...

      I agree that this is the most useful definition.

    • Thomas G. Barnes
      I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my question is
      Message 104 of 104 , Nov 13, 2002
        I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the
        discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my
        question is this, how do I properly cite a web page I used information from
        in an academic paper. I am a student and an interested historical Jesus
        individual. I realize this is off topic so please send reply to me off the

        Thomas G. Barnes
        Philadelphia, PA
        Temple University
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