Friday, November 2, 2012

A quote from Nassim Taleb

Statistical and applied probabilistic knowledge is the core of knowledge; statistics is what tells you if something is true, false, or merely anecdotal; it is the "logic of science"; it is the instrument of risk-taking
Nassim Taleb

You got to hand to the guy: he is passionate about his subject. Of course, he's also the first person to tell you that his most infamous invention, the "Black Swan", is black--that is, extraordinarily rare--because there are no statistics to predict it.

Two of the more useful properties of statistics are these:
  • They are predictive because they are surrogates of a past track record
  • They are persistent in the sense that they are survivors: wait weeks or months and if the circumstances haven't changed, neither have the statistics.
For project purposes, statistics may be the most useful for the rules of thumb they support, rather than the statistical analysis that the project analyst provides: