2006 Holidays
The trouble with percentages


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Probability is a number between 0 and 1, inclusive at both ends.

Mike Anderson

(1) Probabilities that small, and losses that big, are usually represented on a log scale. I suspect this is the case here.

(2) What's amusing is that only 3 or 4 of these events can be assigned anything close to an "objective" probability at all. There's a geological record for supervolcanoes and meteorite impacts; the Spanish flu was the last major epidemic; climate change is still very noisy, and the rest are one-of-a-kind events with subjective probabilities. I'd rate "meteorite impact" higher, with Apophis coming by in 2029 (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4201569.html?page=1)


...pretty sure that's a joke chart...


"Climate change is still very noisy".

When was the last time you checked Wikipedia on that? (Wikipedia: Global Warming.)

Mike Anderson


I neither dine at used-car lots, nor cite Wikipedia as an authoritative reference. If I did, I'd note that every fitted curve they plot has noisy data wandering all about it -- this can make the error interval for forecasts huge. And the farther you forecast, the larger the interval. No one doubts the trend, but I suspect the prediction interval for climate catastrophe spans several orders of magnitude--much like the one for meteorite impact. The reassuring thing--to scientists--about climate research is that we keep extending the historic (and prehistoric) record, so our forecasts can improve. Of course, after the giant meteorite hits, all the climate models have to be recalibrated....

Rosie Redfield

Telomere erosion? Mine are eroding as I type (and yours as you read).

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