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Re: [XTalk] "Conclusion" to Jesus Quest

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  • Stephen Goranson
    Statistics are irrelevant in this case, as the text under discussion does not use the word about which the article speculates. best, Stephen Goranson
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 11, 2000
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      Statistics are irrelevant in this case, as the text under discussion does
      not use the word about which the article speculates.

      best,
      Stephen Goranson
      goranson@...

      >Dear Listmembers,
      >
      >I would like to apologize for my tone in the recent
      >discussion. I see now that the reason Listmembers
      >have become so frustrated is that they have been
      >arguing past each other and failing to address
      >the central issue in my paper, that is to say,
      >my statistical argument. This statistical method
      >needs to be understood clearly before the paper can
      >be assessed. If anyone would like to discuss this
      >method with me, please feel free to contact me
      >on list or off, or, alternatively, call me at
      >home at (212) 744-9450.
      >
      >
      >
      >Eric Laupot
    • Eric Laupot
      Pursuant to my earlier message of today, I would like to add that technically Bob Schacht is correct: the Zipf distribution function can indeed be used in my
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 2, 2000
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        Pursuant to my earlier message of today, I would
        like to add that technically Bob Schacht is correct:
        the Zipf distribution function can indeed be
        used in my calculation instead of the random
        approach that I used in my study. However,
        having just gotten off the phone with Dr. Bob
        Gorman, let me say that Dr. Gorman feels this
        would not change the outcome significantly. (That
        is why he did not suggest using it in the first
        place.) If you want to go ahead and do the
        calculation anyway, you will see this.

        Actually, there is no specific reference to the
        Zipf distribution function in statistical literature,
        because the term did not originate within the
        profession of statistics. It originated, I believe,
        with a philologist. All it is is a multinomial
        distribution. In order for such a distribution to
        affect my calculation, it would have to be strongly
        skewed toward "stirps," the metaphor in question.
        That is to say, a high percentage of words from
        the pen of Severus or the author of fragment 2
        would have to have been "stirps." Since it is
        obvious that this wasn't the case, there is no
        point really in using a multinomial distribution here,
        and it wouldn't affect the outcome much anyway.
        Still, if you feel it would, do the math and present
        it to us.

        Sincerely,


        Eric Laupot
        PO Box 286510
        New York, NY 10128
        USA
        elaupot@...
        Tel. (212) 744-9450

        ____________________________________________________________________
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      • Bob Schacht
        ... Not only can, but it would be highly appropriate. Zipf distributions have been shown to characterize use of words in a natural language (like English) and
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 2, 2000
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          At 01:57 PM 12/2/00 -0500, you wrote:
          >Pursuant to my earlier message of today, I would
          >like to add that technically Bob Schacht is correct:
          >the Zipf distribution function can indeed be
          >used in my calculation instead of the random
          >approach that I used in my study.

          Not only can, but it would be highly appropriate. Zipf distributions have
          been shown to characterize use of words in a natural language (like
          English) and the popularity of library books, so typically
          * a language has a few words ("the", "and", etc.) that are used
          extremely often, and a library has a few books that everybody wants to
          borrow (current bestsellers)
          * a language has quite a lot of words ("dog", "house", etc.) that
          are used relatively much, and a library has a good number of books that
          many people want to borrow (crime novels and such)
          * a language has an abundance of words ("Zipf",
          "double-logarithmic", etc.) that are almost never used, and a library
          has piles and piles of books that are only checked out every few years
          (reference manuals for Apple II word processors, etc.)


          >However, having just gotten off the phone with Dr. Bob
          >Gorman, let me say that Dr. Gorman feels this
          >would not change the outcome significantly.

          He "feels" that?

          >(That is why he did not suggest using it in the first
          >place.) If you want to go ahead and do the
          >calculation anyway, you will see this.

          I'm not the one trying to prove that the "Christiani" were zealots.

          >Actually, there is no specific reference to the
          >Zipf distribution function in statistical literature,

          This is baloney.

          >because the term did not originate within the
          >profession of statistics. It originated, I believe,
          >with a philologist. All it is is a multinomial
          >distribution.

          Oh? Did Dr. Gorman tell you that? Zipf's law, named after the Harvard
          linguistic professor George Kingsley Zipf (1902-1950), is the observation
          that frequency of occurrence of some event ( P ), as a function of the rank
          ( i) when the rank is determined by the above frequency of occurrence, is a
          power-law function P(i) ~ 1/i**a with the exponent (shown by **) "a" close
          to unity. Note that the tilde ~ indicates "approximately equal to". The
          most famous example of Zipf's law is the frequency of English words. For an
          example, see the distribution at
          <http://hobart.cs.umass.edu/~allan/cs646-f97/char_of_text.html>, which
          suffers (as here) from an attempt to show a formula involving exponents in
          a text medium that does not show exponents clearly. Nevertheless, the site
          shows word distributions in an English text sample.
          Some bibliographic references:

          Fedorowicz, J., "The Theoretical Foundation of Zipf"s Law and Its
          Application to
          the Bibliographic Database Environment", Journal of the American Society for
          Information Science, Volume 33, Number 5, 1982

          Wyllys, R.E., "Empirical and theoretical bases of Zipf"s law", Library Trends,
          Volume 3, Number 1, 1981

          Zipf, G. K. (1949), Human Behaviour and the Principle of Least Effort,
          Addison-Wesley Publishing Company: Cambridge, Massachusetts.

          Instructions on how to apply Zipf's law to word frequencies may be found at
          <http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/~jdownie/biblio/zipf.html>

          You might also find useful:
          G. R. Turner (1997) Relationship Between Vocabulary, Text Length and Zipf's
          Law. Available online at:
          <http://www.btinternet.com/~g.r.turner/ZipfDoc.htm>

          I think your case would be considerably strengthened if you had available a
          frequency analysis of latin words in the extant words of Tacitus, and used
          the Zipf distribution to test your hypothesis. Then maybe more people would
          find your case persuasive.

          Bob


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