We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The whole difference between statistics and astrology is supposed to be that statisticians make statements of statistical significance to determine how likely or unlikely it is that an observed outcome could have happened chance, while astrologers are satisfied with merely anecdotal confirmation of their hypotheses.

Hu McCulloch

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Ivan

    For the more mathematically/statistically inclined, here is some interesting reading on the topic:

    “Why Most Published Research Findings are False”

    Taken on its own, a paper which fails to reject the null provides evidence in favor of the null, i.e. against the alternative hypothesis and so should increase the probability that a rational person thinks the null is true. But when a rational person takes into account the selection effect, the fact that the only time papers which fail to reject the null are published is when the evidence against the null is strong, the publication of a paper failing to reject the null can cause him to increase his belief in the alternative theory!

  • nick g.

    For the past few years, I have been using an ephemeris to see if the planets, and I still call Pluto a planet, have an effect on life on Earth. According to Astrology, good angles between the Earth and the Sun and other bodies will give good results here on Earth. March 21st I listed as a bad day, because Pluto was ‘square’ the Sun (Major bad influence). The Stock Market went down then.
    Here is the interesting part. In the future, April 20th, the sun and pluto and saturn are all trine (Major Good influence.) It will thus not be anecdotal evidence as to whether Astrology is right or wrong. I don’t know which stocks to back, but the Market as a whole should do well (especially as the three planets are in all the Earth signs, circling the Earth.) That’s in 10 days time. Let’s see.

  • Nick,
    Interesting comment, but I’m sure that you know that by including Pluto as a planet, you’re exhibiting “comfirmation bias”, choosing variables based on your desired outcome. If the market goes up on the days in question, superstitious readers will begin to pump money into the market on major good influence days. All because of planets millions of miles away.

    What a load of crap.

    Lunar cycles are the only way to predict market behavior.

  • Gib

    Allen, you “lunatic”.

    The reading of chicken entrails is the only real way.

  • Astrology – one of the few things that’s as transparently ridiculous as organised religion.

    My network connection is slow today, Pluto must be in Uranus.

  • Pluto must be in Uranus

    Not in mine, I assure you!

  • jonathan

    Nick g: The markets can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent.

  • Thom


    Obviously you’ve never seen disorganized religion. Or organized politics (oh wait, that would count as organized religion). Or Paris Hilton’s celebrity status. Or locks on the doors of 24-hour convenience stores. In short, get out more. There’re lots of things as transparently ridiculous as astrology. Including a blind faith in current scientific thought.

  • Originally, astrology was a form of government propaganda; astrologers were state spin doctors, a sort of cross between James Carville and Rowan Williams. Its chief assumption – that the planets are manifestations of the gods – has pretty much fallen by the wayside, but astrology lives on.

  • Or locks on the doors of 24-hour convenience stores.

    Um, it may not be as good as a revolver under the counter but it’s better than nothing.

  • Kevin B

    Predicting the stock market is much more sophisticated these days. All the relevant figures are fed into powerful computers. Numbers are crunched and graphs are produced, and the chickens are bought from Sainsburys with the giblets in a neat little plastic bag. (Much less messy)

  • Perry, you don’t have to take it so personally:-)

  • jonathan

    Kevin B: Such sarcasm, “numbers are crunched and graphs produced…” In spite of all the data I think my previous comment is valid.
    Sometimes it’s better to consult the entrails or throw darts than to trust the experts.

  • nick g.

    To Allen in Fort Worth, and others-
    I am putting this forward as a test of Astrology. I am using Pluto because my books on Astrology assert that Pluto, the ‘god’ of the underworld, rules things like metals. Also, I read somewhere that an American Foundation, which studies cycles, has noted that planets in Capricorn have historically been good for stocks. Whilst this Foundation did not actively endorse Astrology, they were honest enough to note the ‘coincidence’.
    So let us see what happens! Sceptical originally meant ‘neutral’, so let’s keep a neutral eye on the markets. If they do peak on the 20th, and then slide, chalk a win to Astrology. If nothing happens, a loss!

  • Nick g,
    Please understand that I am an advocate of Bacchus, the god of wine, who rules things like alcohol. And I plan to honor his influence numerous times between now and the 20th, likely erasing all memory of this comment chain.
    You have my URL.
    Let me know if the market goes up on the 20th. Or if only metal commodities go up on the 20th. Or if anything else wonderful happens on the 20th because of the now-demoted Pluto.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go kill all the black cats in the neighborhood. They’re causing me to pick bad lottery numbers.

  • nick g.

    Allen, a word of warning. The Sun rules Leo, the biggest cat of them all, and the patron saint of all cats, even black (or is that, in PCspeak, ‘African-American’?). Don’t blame me if a CATastrophe befalls you.

  • A question to all experts:
    Which system is more complicated or chaotic – the stock market or the climate ?

    I would advise the climate-modelers to have a try at the stock market. With their special capabilities at modeling they could get rich fast.

  • renminbi

    It looks like no one has a real handle on climate-it’s almost a religion. For the stock markets-well, one can rationalise all one one wants,but there is a test-ones bank account. For a number of years I made a very good living made trading S&P 500 futures. This was done based on proprietary computer programs a friend and I developed on a TRS80 in the 1985. This worked very well for 17 years and then suddenly it just stopped working.All of this was with my money only,but the real money is made running other peoples money,if they are foolish enough to want to pay the vigorish. Of course some the hedgies were a good bet,but now it looks like there is far more money there than talent to manage it. It will end badly,most likely.

    The point is capital markets are always changing and most people are a few steps behind the sharpies.The best book on the subject is The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, a man who tells it like it is.
    Don’t speculate (unless you’re Hillary, who got good trades, allocated to her,in what was clearly bribery)-it is sucker’s game. I got away with it. You won’t.