Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

13 Weeks: Diets and Black Swans

How can we tell if a diet plan works?

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

January 11, 2014 - 3:00 pm
Page 1 of 2  Next ->   View as Single Page

640px-Cygnus_Atratus_Singapore

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan introduced an old term and then, annoyingly, redefined it. For Sir Karl Popper, the black swan was an observation about logical quantification: if you assert “all swans are white” then the observation of a single black swan falsifies the assertion.

Taleb’s observation is different, although related: he’s observing that really unexpected events are unexpected: we have a model of the world that says “The US mainland is secure from attack” that seems perfectly plausible on 10 September 2001; we believe “Islamist terrorism is on the run” and then a bomb blows up in Boston.

(There’s a more sophisticated way to deal with all of these called Bayesian inference. We’ll leave the details for a science column, but in a few words, a Bayesian starts with an assumed a priori estimate of the probability of an event. After observation, they have a new a postieriori estimate that incorporates new experience.)

But there’s yet a third way to think about these that shows us how mathematics and probability can show us surprising things.

(Yes, this is a diet and exercise column, just a little further down.)

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (4)
All Comments   (4)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I don't know, but right now I am throwing everything at my diet and see what sticks (or comes off , if I have my metaphor correct)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You question is a large part of why Peter Attia and Gary Taubes created the Nutrition Science Initiative. http://nusi.org/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Absolutely, I've been linking them since they started.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All