Pretending to use decision theory and rational thought for solve everyday problems is likely a conceit. The most common way of making serious decisions is to resort to authority. Why is this? After all, the greatest technical advances in human culture have all taken place …continue reading
The decisions you make are important, but maybe not as important as the ones made for you by other people (following Mitt, we confer people status on corporations). If a pharmaceutical company decides to market a new drug and the new, and expensive, drug supposedly …continue reading
While waiting for my muse to deliver an idea for a post involving decision theory, I opened Facebook, something I only do every other week or so, and found that my son, a solar physicist, had posted the following grouse (his nomenclature). With his permission …continue reading
We are unlikely to add much new to the discussion of why math works, but by exploring the issues, we might learn more about the question. For instance, Barry Etheridge pointed out that in some sense “No triangle exists out here” by the traditional definition …continue reading
The August 2011 issue of Scientific American has an interesting article by Mario Livio called “Why Math Works.” The issue he addresses applies also to the underpinnings of logic and decision theory. The puzzle starts with the observation that in the real world of sensory …continue reading
Recently I posted articles about gambling on a three-dice throw and whether children are boys or girls. The point was to emphasize that making good decisions requires knowing which events are correlated. This is most obvious in the fights that still occasionally erupt over the …continue reading
This blog is primarily about how to make decisions. Some of those decisions involve solving puzzles. This is good for practice, but what about real, physical problems? In the news we see almost hysterical covering on the nuclear danger in Japan. Some people, particularly in …continue reading
At first reading, the last two posts to this blog might seem to be out of character. The blog’s title indicates items involving decision theory will be discussed, but the latest postings dealt with various issues of the solar system. In particular, I discussed to …continue reading
Two types of puzzles are particularly attractive: (1) puzzles with both a lengthy hard-to-work-out solution and an “Aha” solution in which a sudden insight gives you a simple solution; and (2) practical puzzles with application in the natural world.
Many of these enchanting types of …continue reading
Part of the reason I am interested in decision theory and puzzles is that so many decisions in life are made irrationally and sub-optimally, while many puzzles go unsolved. Anyone who spends any time considering the ease with which people can be confused by numbers …continue reading
Constructing puzzles and decision theory problems is easy if you define an artificial world. For instance, the classic case of the truth-tellers and liars who live on an island. A castaway wants to get to the village on the island for food and help. He …continue reading
Sometimes we jump into an application of decision theory prematurely. Problems like deciding the probability that a person has AIDS given a positive result on a clinical test are easy to set up and solve. In essence, both the problem and nature of the solution …continue reading
Here is a simple game that might illustrate some of the quirks of quantum mechanics — or at least might stimulate some thought.
The first is a variant of twenty questions. I believe it was invented by the physicist Wheeler (try searching on Wheeler’s twenty …continue reading