Category Archives: The Dice

Type I versus Type II errors in election security

I-Voted

You likely first encountered the “Type I versus Type II error problem” in grade school and didn’t realize it. Perhaps some kid in the class played a practical joke on the teacher, and because nobody confessed, the entire class got detention. In some situation or another, you were likely punished undeservedly as a group for the actions of a small… Read more »

A Florida coronavirus film noir in four acts

June Florida Coronavirus

The dramatic June resurgence of Covid-19 cases in my current home of Florida strikes me as film noir that has been playing out in four acts. You could write this story in a number of ways, but I see the plot line as a battle among the exciting(?) mathematical concepts of uncertainty, probability, and fecundity, with some ugly politics thrown… Read more »

Driving drunk in Coronavirus World

      No Comments on Driving drunk in Coronavirus World
Covid risk of harm

Whenever I get into my car, even on a nice day while wide awake and sober, I am taking on the risk of death. And very late every snowy winter’s night in Minnesota, some guy is out on the road driving fast and drunk. Which one of these risks is most like the “Coronavirus World” in which we currently live?… Read more »

The ethical theory of “Sucks to be you!”

Coronavirus history US

Utilitarianism is a classic “vector” of ethical theory, a structured way to decide “the right way” to resolve life-and-death dilemmas like the one facing us today. This is a versatile model, one that that has continued to re-emerge in modified forms ever since its roots in the writings of Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). The coronavirus news… Read more »

Living Shirley Jackson’s story ‘The Lottery’ in real-time

Closed Iowa Counties

Note: This blog entry was first published in @LauraRBelin’s  Bleeding Heartland blog on Monday, May 4, and is re-posted here for my audience. I have updated the Iowa death chart and its explanation to include several more days of data. History since that earlier chart has been mixed. The daily growth rate in Iowa COVID-19 deaths has dropped slightly to… Read more »

Lifeboat ethics #2 – Ventilators and PPE

Pittsburgh Triage

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only near the beginning of March that I wrote a post about the literal application of lifeboat ethics that was being forced onto passengers on two cruise ships denied docking privileges to offload passengers still uninfected by the Coronavirus. At that point, only nineteen people had died of COVID-19 in the… Read more »

The roll of the COVID-19 dice

      3 Comments on The roll of the COVID-19 dice
Bayes Theorem

“It doesn’t want to kill you before you transmit it.” – biologist Michael Farzan of Scripps Research That quote is not so scary as it sounds; it is basic probability math. The probability math of the COVID-19 Coronavirus variant has hit the news, and not in a good way. We have already seen the first reported cases in my county… Read more »

Free Will in 1000 words

      2 Comments on Free Will in 1000 words
Junction

This is the second in a series trying out pithy explanations of words I use a lot in this blog. The first was on the word probability, linked here. I prefer the word volition, but the overlapping terms of free will and choice are more in the common vocabulary. So, here’s my take on free will. The usual “Big Question”… Read more »

Impeachment and the death of professional ethics

Legality Morality & Professional Ethics

One part of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump disturbed me more for professional reasons than did some of the other absurdities. I watched White House counsel Pat Cipollone publicly violate at least three professional ethical standards required of attorneys with no consequences while standing in front of “potted plant” Chief Justice John Roberts in defense of the President…. Read more »