Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Be suspicious of 99 percent

Carl Bialik reports, for the WSJ:
Russell V. Lenth, a statistician at the University of Iowa, wrote, “I am automatically suspicious of any stated probability of 99%, 99.9%, etc. These are usually numbers people use to state that they are confident of something, without having actually calculated anything.” ...

That’s a concern in genetic testing to resolve paternity disputes. It is “possible to find two or more men (this occurs most frequently with close relatives) who each have a ‘probability of paternity’ well in excess of 99% — which, obviously, is rather silly,” wrote William C. Thompson, professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine.
There are many fishy things about the Osama bin Laden raid. The DNA and facial recognition claims sound as if they were written by White House staffer who watch too much CSI TV.

Everyone complains that Pakistan had 5 years to notice the OBL compound, and do something. But reportedly, our own CIA knew about it for 6 months, and took 6 months to figure out what to do.

No comments: