Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Waterloo. Mecca.

So I went down to that random lecture tonight, and it was DEFINITELY worth the drive... so gorgeous! I already knew (as most of us do) most of the things he was talking about, so blah, blah, blah...

but exciting for me!: (a) to hear it charismatically is great and inspiring, (b) to hear it understand of reading it again and have it reinforced is great too, (c) to hear new examples of current lab work is even better. I'm now convinced to keep up with the field a bit more, even at the superficial understanding I am at.

Mlodinow talked about the impact randomness has on everyday events. He brought up some great examples.. For one: a stock broker was congratulated in the New York Times in (Bill Miller, if I remember correctly) 2004 for out profiting the index for 15 years straight. Mlodinow did some quick math - 1000 stock brokers choosing stocks at random for 15 years; how many would do this over the index by random?: 3% of the population. Ok.. pretty cool. Now comes the kicker; let's say a stock broker works for 40 years. Several NEWSpapers tried to estimate the odds saying something like 1:477,000. One even went as high as 1:2.2 billion! The right odds?: i.e. what are the odds that randomly 1000 stock brokers would have a streak of 15 straight years beating the index over a 40 year career? Roughly 3 out of 4. 75%!.. Amazing display of math and faulty "logic". And of a job? Any job?

Another example: Let's say one NHL team (the B&Bs) have a 55% percent chance of beating another team on any given night (Given W-L records in the NHL, this can very well be approximately correct). So, during a best of 7 series the better team has only a 60% chance of coming out on top! Moreover, to calculate the better team coming out on top to statistical significance (a 5% failure rate - the scientific standard being the 95% success rate), the series would have to be a best of 269!.. wow and awesome.

One last great study M mentioned: A group of folks was introduced to several wines in different price ranges and asked to rate them on how they liked them... the catch was that the scientists put the same wine marked as $90 and as $10 in the same batch. Now, it's kinda obvious that most people would rate the $90 bottle better tasting than the $10 bottle of wine (playing to expectations, don't wanna look like a fool, etc). The catch here was that they performed the tastings in an MRI machine. What happened? They weren't faking! More activity and dopamine release was seen in the brain when drinking the $90 bottle of wine! How cool is that! They (we) tend to actually enjoy the wine (or whatever) more than the equivalent when expecting 'worse'! Stuff like that really matters to people, and it's obviously transferable to so many aspects of life! So, so awesome.

Just to leave with a quote (how he closed the lecture): "If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." Thomas Watson, IBM.

Basically, what I got from it was keep trying, motherfucking all the time, because there are always so many unaccounted variables in every situation that the best method to guarantee success, is to keep trying. Awesome again.

Ok, enough gushing. I've let my place get outta control since coming back from NYC. I haven't even unpacked; time for some cleanup.


UPDATE!: Watch it live here:

I ask a question that was caught on tape re: clutch hitting at 1:01:49!...

No comments:

Post a Comment