EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IS WRONG
Pre-published in December 2021, but officially in January 2022. Buy it.
Errata page: submit typos and mistakes here, thank you.
Chapter excerpts: There Is No Wisdom In Crowds: Against Mass Voting, The Race Doesn’t Exist & Only Whites Are Racist Fallacy, The Somebody Might Get Hurt Fallacy.
THE BIG GIST
If you are an Expert, professional, bureaucrat, teacher, professor, Democrat or Republican, liberal, progressive or conservative, consider yourself in any way in the educated classes, the odds are high that everything you believe is wrong.
Not everything. Not simple things. Only the most important things. If you are in the majority, then a great deal of what you hold true about the world and of life is false.
Here is a small sample of things that majority of educated believe are false, but which are instead true: Science cannot answer every question put to it; It is not always right to correct a wrong; There is no wisdom in crowds; A consensus among elite academics does not prove the belief of the elite academics is true; That you are offended is irrelevant to whether a proposition is true or false; Defining yourself as your sexual desire is nonsensical; Voting does not make the majority position right and the minority position wrong; Voting is a leading cause of discord; Democracy is rarely to be desired; You cannot choose to believe you do not have free will; God exists.
These are only some of the ideas and arguments explored in this book. The majority, and that means likely you, are wrong about all of them. This is no idle claim. It will be proved chapter by chapter.
Every bad or invalid or unsound argument contains a fallacy or mistake in thinking. Nobody knows the complete list of ways thought can go wrong, and it has even been surmised such a list is endless. History supports this contention. There is ample reason to believe the human race is congenitally insane.
Some mistakes are more common than others. Every age has its own favorite forays into fiction, driven by fashion, fad, and fantasy, all of which are enforced by the culture’s self-appointed Watchers. The balance of truth versus error shifts in time, yet the current age is more eager than average to ferret away any shiny object it finds and call it precious.
Fallacies therefore have tremendous inertia. Some mental misconstructions are permanent fixtures. I have evocative and memorable nicknames, at least for speakers of English, of the most popular and important fallacies of our day. We step through each, showing how it is false.
Here are just a few of our age’s favorite fallacies: Controversial Fallacy, Non-Fallacy Fallacy, Appeal to Non-Authority, So Yer’s Old Man, Bluff & Bluster Fallacy, You Bigot Fallacy, Hate Speech Fallacy, Bureaucrat Fallacy, One True Spartacus Fallacy, Wisdom of Crowds Fallacy, I Can’t See Another
Way Fallacy; many, many others, including the ever-popular Meta Fallacy. This is a fallacy that says a thing is true because it is a fallacy. Strange as it seems, it is most convincing.
THE PRICE OF PANIC
Published on 13 October 2020. Buy it.
See the 100+ coronadoom updates that appear (depressingly) every Tuesday on the blog for more about the book.
THE BIG GIST
From the publisher
For the first time in history, the world shut itself down—by choice—all for fear of a virus, COVID-19, that wasn’t well understood. The government, with the support of most Americans, ordered the closure of tens of thousands of small businesses—many never to return. Almost every school and college in the country sent its students home to finish the school year in front of a computer. Churches cancelled worship services. “Social distancing” went from a non-word to a moral obligation overnight. Moral preening on social media achieved ever new heights.
The world will reopen and life will go on, but what kind of world will it be when it does? It can’t be what it was, because of what’s just happened.
Professors Jay Richards, William Briggs, and Douglas Axe take a deep dive into the crucial questions on the minds of millions of Americans during one of the most jarring and unprecedented global events in a generation.
- What will be the total cost in dollars, lives, and livelihoods of this response from governments, on advice from Science?
- What role have national and global health organizations such as WHO played in this? To whom are they accountable?
- What evidence do they rely on in sounding the alarm?
- How did science bureaucrats, relying on murky data and speculative computer models, gain the power to shut down the global economy?
- How did politicians, who know nothing of the science, decide whom to trust?
- We need to know what and how it happened, to keep it from ever happening again.
This is the permanent page for Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics. E-copies can be had from Springer in EPUB and PDF formats. Amazon has a Kindle version (but I’ve heard bad things about its formatting).
Important student note: apparently many universities have a deal with Springer such that you can read for free the book on your university’s library site.
Uncertainty’s a hit! 821 paper copies sold and 7,915 downloads: “This means your book was one of the top 25% most downloaded eBooks in the relevant SpringerLink eBook Collection in 2016.” Update: 2017 was just as strong.
If you cannot afford the book, at least read this paper, and pass it on to your colleagues.
Note: the more attractive cover image was a gift from Wrath of Gnon.
THE BIG GIST
- All probability is conditional;
- Probability is not decision.
From those simple and proved truths flow these consequences:
- Probability cannot discern cause;
- Therefore no hypothesis test, by wee p-value or Bayes factor, should ever be used;
- Parameters are of no interest to man or beast;
- Only verified probability models should be used and in a predictive sense;
- To understand cause and provide explanation we must look to nature, essence, and power.
Read the book and be the first on your block to come to a wondrous, penetrating understanding of probability & statistics. Out with the new and in with the old! The older, better, and true understanding of cause and probability, that is. Eschew mathematics for the sake of mathematics, flee ad hocery in all its forms and wiles, and put probability to its intended real use!
This includes you, too, computer scientists, with your big deep data neural net machine “learning” fuzzy algorithms, which are all probability models with (admittedly) better names.
|The New Criterion||Mathematical Association of America|
|Don Aitkin||Thorsten Jorgen Ottosen|
|The Philosopher||Vox Popoli|
|Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons||Amerika|
|Real World Economics Review|
Breaking the Law of Averages, a simple introduction to some of the main ideas of Uncertainty; really notes for an introductory class. Free PDF or buy the softcover.
So, You Think You’re Psychic?, a skeptical framework for testing for would-be psychics. Free PDF or buy the softcover. This was written long before I figured out the true meaning of probability.
Perhaps these are overly picky things to consider:
1) pg 3 , 3rd paragraph, consider change “… insist all triangles have … ” to “… insist all planar triangles have … ”
2) of 4, 4th paragraph change “I don’t consider idealism to be on any interest.” to “I don’t consider idealism to be of any interest.”
The book looks great, but will there be a paperback in due course? (it’s a bit pricey). Thanks.
I’ll probably buy the book anyway and not wait for a paperback version (if any). Is it ok to post feedback, comments, questions, typos, here?
Page 10 first paragraph under “Science and Scientism” should be
“That radium *has* the atomic weight of w might be false…”
“That radium does not have the atomic weight of w might be false…”
My favorite Christmas gift. Many thanks to my lovely wife and to WMB.
Would love to see you write a book on “climate change”. =)
Dear Dr Briggs,
I am enjoying your book. There is so much I philosophically agree with it and will feature it on my blog. I find your book timely. I have encountered quite a number of scientists who have no philosophical appreciation at all, some are quite allergic to it.
I am so glad you wrote it.
Are there solutions available to the homework for Breaking the Law of Averages?