Nov 22, 2017

'The Seen' Triumphs Over 'The Unseen' Again

from The New York Times:
"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday signed a bill to ban vaping anywhere cigarettes are already prohibited, like workplaces, restaurants and bars ...
"New York has come down fiercely on e-cigs, even as their popularity grows: they now represent a $2.5-billion industry, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that while the health consequences of the product are little understood, there are still reasons for concern, including nicotine addiction ...
"But proponents of devices like e-cigs and vaporizers  ... say they are a safer alternative to cigarettes and may help with smoking cessation. Studies so far have been limited and short term, and are not conclusive on either front."
In summary: 'The Seen' triumphs over 'The Unseen' again.

The Seen: Less plumes of vapor that may or may not be harmful.

The Unseen: Those who will die from smoking cigarettes because they lacked a major reason (getting a fix where smoking is prohibited) to switch to this much healthier alternative.

Market Research is Not About Measuring Things

from Bob Hoffman aka "The Ad Contrarian":
"In the hard sciences, research is reasonably reliable because it measures things. In the soft (social) sciences, research is often not about measuring things, but about asking questions. 
"In other words, rather than watching to see if you’re cheating on your wife, they ask you if you are. Then they treat your answer as a fact rather than just the bullshit it is.
"The consequence of this is that a great many of the surveys, reports, and studies we read tell us nothing about what we’re trying to understand, they tell us what people say about what we’re trying to understand. A very different thing."
Source: Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey

Revelation of Preferences

"The axiom of revelation of preferences states the following: you will not have an idea about what people really think, what predicts people’s actions, merely by asking them – they themselves don’t know. What matters, in the end, is what they pay for goods, not what they say they 'think' about them, or what are the reasons they give you or themselves for that."

- NN Taleb, "How to be Rational about Rationality," Skin in the Game

Sep 1, 2017

Feynman on Questions

"I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned."

- Richard Feynman

The Ignorance of Experts

In a 1996 talk to high-school science teachers, the great physicist Richard Feynman said:
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts ... If they say to you, 'Science has shown such and such,' you might ask, 'How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?'  
"It should not be 'science has shown' but 'this experiment, this effect, has shown.' And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments--but be patient and listen to all the evidence--to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.
Source: "What is Science?"