YANSS Podcast 022 – How we miss what is missing and what to do about it with statistician Megan Price

Illustration by Brad Clark at http://www.plus3video.com - available for purchase here: http://bit.ly/1mItekh

The Topic: Survivorship Bias

The Guest: Megan Price

The Episode: Download iTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

The problem with sorting out failures and successes is that failures are often muted, destroyed, or somehow removed from sight while successes are left behind, weighting your decisions and perceptions, tilting your view of the world. That means to be successful you must learn how to seek out what is missing. You must learn what not to do. Unfortunately, survivorship bias stands between you and the epiphanies you seek.

Megan PriceTo learn how to combat this pernicious bias, we explore the story of Abraham Wald and the Department of War Math founded during World War II, and then we interview Wald’s modern-day counterpart, Megan Price, statistician and director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group who explains how she uses math and statistics to save lives and improve conditions in areas of the world suffering from the effects of war.

After the interview, I discuss a news story about how very old violins twist the beliefs of expert musicians.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Ken Rose who submitted a recipe for a classic Italian biscotto. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Italian biscotto

Links 

The Episode: Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Megan Price at HRDAG

HRDAG

The Original Survivorship Bias Story

Ed Yong on the Violin Study

The Violin Study

Sources

  • Smith, M. D., Wiseman, R. & Harris, P. (2000). The relationship between ‘luck’ and psi. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 94, 25-36.
  • Smith, M. D., Wiseman, R., Harris, P. & Joiner, R. (1996). On being lucky: The psychology and parapsychology of luck. European Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 35-43.
  • Wolfowitz, J. “Abraham Wald, 1902-150.” The Annals of Mathematical Statistics 23.1 (1952): 1-13.
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