Beer, chance, dice, and god

I woke up early so as not to miss the dawn on this longest day.  I went to Starbuck’s when they opened early this morning.  I sat on the ledge looking out upon State Street.  Hardly a soul was out and about that early in the morning.  I read part of the New York Times on my iPhone.

After the news bored me, I started thinking about this fictional person who claims she can taste the difference between Bud Light and Miller Lite.  I imagined myself possessing a six pack of Bud Light and a six pack of Miller Lite.  How could I use those six packs to test whether she really could tell the difference?  What kind of experiment could I concoct that would lend some insight?

Two six packs doesn’t seem like much of a sample, but unless I want my test subject to get drunk enough to go home with me, it might have to suffice for the experiment.  Let’s face it, we don’t often get to use large samples in our everyday researches, yet we must make decisions given regretable constraints.

My imaginary taster epitomizes one of my interests these days: what kind of knowledge might we glean from small samples of data?  What kinds of odds would we demand if we bet on future outcomes of an experiment.

Some people ask the question as to whether God plays dice.  Well, if there is a god, she forces us to play dice.  That might suffice for all we need to know about God and chance.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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