Happy 1000th Post!

1000th Post Celebration!This is it! The nine-hundred-ninety-ninth-plus-one post! The post whose number is a pleasing and large (relatively speaking) power of ten! The post that pushes us over the top of the pile and into history!

Well, perhaps that last claim is a trifle bombastic. But, dammit, a full 1000, mostly emanating from the wee isle of Manhattan. Yes, sir: an incredibly large number of scintillating, thought-provoking—with an emphasis on provocation—sparkling, any-antonym-of-dull, nearly daily hardcore articles. No light reading here!

It might help, in trying to understand the style of this blog, to learn that a favorite cartoon is one in which we see an aged man lying in bed, his family and the doctor gathered round. The old man, with a nasty little grin, says, “These are my last words. No, wait. These are my last words. Hold on. These are my truly last words…”

Whatever defect plagued that old man is surely possessed by your author. The worst part is that is not only is this defect acknowledged, it is sinfully cherished. There is no known cure.

Yet the problem is partly your fault. You have exacerbated the situation. Yes, to accompany this bloggy millennium are a number of comments fifteen shy of 17,000. For those who’d rather not do the math, this is an average of seventeen reader contributions per post.

True, many of these are variants of “Briggs, you fool! You have it wrong again…” but that makes no difference. These might even aggravate your author’s condition.

On 6 December 2007, there appeared post number 1, How to Exaggerate Your Results: Case study #1. Evidently, I thought that numbering case studies a brilliant idea. The article applied statistical vivisection to an advertisement which shouted “Lipitor reduces risk of heart attack by 36%*.” All the magic happened in that asterisk.

Two comments accompanied this article, one by some guy flogging an anti-cholesterol book, the other by a gentleman who wanted to be given that book as a gift.

From there, we moved to The mathematics of Santa Claus’ present delivery system, which has been reposted each Christmas. This article, which I had on an earlier, static, non-blog version of this website was found by the producers of Weird USA, a History Channel show which broadcast yours truly dismissing India and China as worthy of Santa’s attention.

We have explored the mania of global warming, then climate change, then climate catastrophism, soon to be climate horrible-doom. Press reports on climatology are like those of a marketing company desperate to flog an unwanted product, forever issuing broadsides which claim “New and Improved!” We imagine the company’s frustrated executives gathered around a table and wailing, “Why won’t they buy what we’re selling?”

The heat seems to be abating, attentions drifting. People are caring less. Which is fine by me, since not much original ever appears on the topic. To see all climate articles, click here.

My specialty is, of course, statistics, but in the sense of an applied branch of the philosophy of science or epistemology. Like, for example, a physicist, I do math, but I am not a mathematician. Probability can be a branch of math, but when probability is used to quantify uncertainty about life it ceases to be math and turns into philosophy. Since we make decisions using probability it is crucial to understand what probability really means.

I adopt positivism and logic as a basis of knowledge. This position is non-skeptical, non-mystical, and wholly non-subjective. This is in the tradition of Aristotle, Keynes, Jeffreys, Carnap, and many others, but Edwin Jaynes and David Stove most of all. In the lingo, this is called “Objective Bayes” (or Bayesiansim); however, I do not claim to follow any person’s system exactly. For example, I reject Carnap’s notion of two kinds of probability: to me, it’s all one. To see all philosophy articles, click here.

Of all subjects, there is probably none more important than that explored in our serious discussion of men’s fashion. What is the proper length for a tie? Why, unless you are laboring, you should never wear jeans. The rules of hat etiquette. The benefits of the suit and gentlemanly dress. Remember: other people have to look at you, so for God’s sake, wear no t-shirts emblazoned with asinine humor. For a brief list of fashion articles, click here.

A limited, but growing selection of my favorite articles can always be found at the top of the page, under the Stats/Climate link.

Most of all, thanks to everybody for making this blog a success. My heart soars like a hawk to see the crew of regulars stopping by and chipping in. See you at the next order of magnitude!

Update: Thanks for all your encouragement, everybody! If you were hear, you would see my copious tears of happiness.


  1. SRS

    Thanks for the thought & work that you put into provoking us!

    There are only 5 blogs that I read daily (you probably wouldn’t approve of the others); this blog is one of them. You have interesting things to say & generally express them well.

  2. William Sears

    As a sporadic commenter: congratulations. Reading your first article, the 3% versus 2% followed by 2% versus 1% is very confusing. Is this a typo? On a different topic I agree that T-shirts with jokes or puns emblazed on them are an abomination. They are funny only once and not every time you encounter this individual. It is the equivalent of repeating the same two or three jokes over and over again. “Have you heard the one about…” “Yes, shut up”. Actually, I do not like any expressions printed on clothing, humorous or not. I might make an exception for college affiliation et cetera.

  3. JH

    Congratulations on your 1000th post. Thank you!

  4. Lx

    Congratulations! Although I do not like the conservative agenda, I keep reading.

  5. Gary C

    Congratulations, aligns with Red Eye’s 1000 broadcast.

  6. Jon Petersen

    I’ve greatly enjoyed your teaching, provoking, humor, and sparring with Luis (long live you both). Thanks ever so much!

  7. B

    Congratulations on #1000 and keep up the great work. Thank you!

  8. Adam H

    Oh Uffe Ravnskov and Josephine. How long ago that was.

    1,000? Psh. Me and my commenting cohorts are pushing 17,000!

  9. Speed

    Makes me think. Thanks.

  10. Ken

    RE Probability & Statistics being the same or not (prior blog entry)/or/there’s only one & not two kinds of probability (this entry): I’ve always considered “statistics” the part with all the historical data including, as desired, whatever analytical manipulations are done (i.e. “statistics” is backward-looking up thru the present dataset) to come up with the second–and different (‘not same’…as if “different” needed clarification)–thing: Probability…that mystical prophetic prognosticating guess as to what will happen next, appropriately weasel-worded to allow for all contingencies no matter what actually happens.

    Of course, that’s not to say I disagree with Briggs…its just how one defines the terms.

    As for men’s fashion–does it really matter what one is wearing while sequestered away in a private room & working on-line? That’s one fashion area I hope we will leave unexplored.

  11. max

    Congratulations, 1000 is a good round number, although thanks might be more appropriate.

    Although it isn’t statistics I have wondered for some time about something to do with round numbers, to wit, while 0 is definitely a round number is 8 a more or less of a round number that 0?

  12. Congrats! There are few blogs out there that are as carefully thought out and precisely formulated as yours.

  13. DAV

    17 vs. 16.985 comments/post suggests you are a closet engineer. Congrats all the same.

    0 is definitely round while 8 is kinda lumpy.

  14. dearieme

    Good for you: well done that man.

    “What is the proper length for a tie?” Zero: one wears a cravat – or at least one would if ones wife hadn’t thrown them all out.

    “never wear jeans”: my last pair – cords, a bright amber in hue – have gone the way of all flash.

    “wear no t-shirts”: well quite.

    “The rules of hat etiquette”: come the summer sun I sport a white hat designed, I think, for Kiwis of a certain age to wear on the bowling green. Tres chic.

  15. Good grief! Just a thousand? Seems like more, somehow. Must be the intellectual subject matter and dealing with Luis that makes it seem so many.

    Just kidding, Luis. Relax.

    Max and Dav. There is a school of thought that 8 could be two round numbers.

  16. DAV


    CNN doesn’t want you to run out of things to cover. Today, they have a story that must have come from an AMA press release about their JAMA party book. Seems the researchers ran out of data but , not to worry, they got a new shipment from the Data Mines in the nick of time to produce this:

    In a new analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers combined data from eight such studies and found that for every additional two hours people spend glued to the tube on a typical day, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20% and their risk of heart disease increases by 15%.

    Obviously, it’s the TV because sitting on your ass for an additional two hours to read a book — typical day or not — wouldn’t have these effects. TV causes diabetes and heart disease. Imagine that. Doesn’t say if Real Housewives of New Jersey conveys more or less risk than say Jeopardy or the NatGeo channel. They didn’t bother to say what the two hours are in addition to.

    Statistics is fun.

  17. RWS


  18. bobby1951

    Great blog.

  19. a jones

    Congratulations. I always pop in to see what you have to say but seldom comment. And naturally have little interest in US politics: we have a perfectly good set of political clowns of own.

    Kindest Regards.

  20. Dear Uncle Matt,

    Kudos for your honesty, expertise, literary artistry, and perseverance. And for your unwavering efforts to educate the world. We are all the better for it, even those who haven’t been smacked by your paint balls of wisdom but are indirectly benefited via social osmosis anyway. It’s a subtle but very real outcome.


  21. StephenPickering

    Congratulations, and please keep up the good work.

  22. GregO


    Congratulations and keep it up. Love your blog.

  23. Greg Cavanagh


    A very impressive number I must say. I don’t post very often, but I read almost every post. I love this site, grats Mr Briggs.

  24. James


    The following exchange made me recall your words of wisdom:

    “There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter?'”

    “The mood will pass, sir.”

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