Basic Probability

In case you missed it, there was some basic probability on the Daily Show a few days ago.  The “expert” argues that since the Large Hadron Collider may or may not create a micro black hole, then there is a 50-50 chance that the world will be destroyed.  As John Oliver, the interviewer, says, “I’m not sure that’s how probability works, Walter.”  Check out the video:

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6 thoughts on “Basic Probability

  1. This address something far greater than someone getting probability wrong… it addresses the fact that there is a reason that people who don’t know probability well are the ones who speak out against peer-reviewed science.

  2. Agree with the poster above. I think it is safe to lump Mr. Wagner in with the 9/11 truthers and the people that don’t think we walked on the moon. Donning my tin foil hat, I get back to writing a paper and learning LaTeX – at the same time. I wonder if they can fire up the LHC and create this black hole before my topology final?

  3. The LHC will not be turned on again until the 10th of September. I believe they are still putting the magnets back in place. You don’t want to rush something as expensice as the LHC. If you want further info or would like to let CERN use your computer to process data when it comes online check out this webpage.
    http://lhcathome.cern.ch/
    Also, something intresting, Professor Baer here in the OU Physics Department used to collaborate with John Ellis, which is the SCIENTIST in the video clip. I’m sure that Professor Baer would be more than willing to set you straight on micro-black holes if you were curious. There is also going to be a Partical Physics Conference here at OU. Check out the flyer at http://www.nhn.ou.edu/ppc09/menu/theme.html
    where I’m sure that there will be talks about the LHC. Bad information to the masses about scientific matters really upset me, and this clip is a prime example.

    • Amanda,

      Thanks for the info and the links! And you and Leah are definitely right that it’s infuriating how the media will whip up confusion and worry in everyday people by giving serious attention to a few fringe people in the name of “covering both sides of the story” (i.e. controversy for controversy’s sake).

  4. It’s so interesting how some things can blow into huge “end of the world” discussions. Anyways, if it did cause a black hole, we wouldn’t know it.

  5. I think we can put these ideas to bed now that we’ve seen some of the mathematics behind these doomsayer theories

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