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Showing posts from May, 2016

How to Estimate Anything From Nothing...

or How to be a Good System Engineer This will be a discussion of how to estimate something from little or almost no information. We call this making a Scientific Wild-Ass Guess or a SWAG. I've been pretending to be a system engineer for a long time.  And I have to admit that I still have to go look up the  average wait time in a queue  or the  Poisson  distribution. Typically estimates are extensions of known data, the more data the better.  But what happens when you know hardly anything about the data that answers the question, because it doesn't exist? Something from Nothing... The modern method of how to estimate something from no information at all is the  classic paper : "Implications of the Copernican principle for our future prospects" by J. Richard Gott III [ 1 ]. Sounds innocuous, but is probably one of the best tools ever invented for doing system analysis when information is lacking. It's almost as important as  Baye's theorem  that allows o

The Case for Intelligent Design.

What is the Case for Intelligent Design?  First we have to define Intelligent Design.  In the common sense of a replacement for " creationism " it is obvious that there is no case for it.  It's actually a negative argument: since things are so complicated they must be made and could not have happened by accident. That makes some sense: particularly complicated things are unlikely to be made by accident, so things that look like they are designed probably are. This doesn't apply to humans, though; we haven't evolved by accident: we evolve by the random mutations but they are passed along by survival of the fittest.  If the mutation has a small chance of making the entity survive long enough to have a better chance to reproduce, then this mutation will eventually be passed onto more of the members of the species as time goes on. This was the insight that Darwin (and many others) had 150 years ago.  Darwin was the first to understand that the assumption explained