ASFO 2023–05–27

Hamlet ― yes, the Shakespeare play ― a mathematical concept called the “zero ring”, violence at Target stores, and a long filibuster in the Nebraska legislature… what do these things possibly have in common? Maybe nothing! But they all serve to illustrate one of my major concerns : the intersection of lack of knowledge with lack of understanding. We live today in an enormously complex society, and there is such a wealth of information available that no human mind can deal with it all. As a result, people who specialize in one subject are often totally divorced, both in knowledge and in working methods, from those who specialize in another. Meanwhile, our societies give evidence of being caught in vast eddies and backwashes of ignorance.

Supplementary Show

  • 2023–05–30 “Every patient represents an improbable event.” Conclusion of Vignette №20, Populations, Samples, and Items, and commencement of №21, Probability is not Gambling.
  • 2023–06–02 “Small sample statistics of ambiguously defined events in ambiguously defined populations are almoset certain to be the most colossal lies perpetrated. But large sample estaimates made from precisely defined events happening to closely regulated items can be more accurate measurements of what actually happened than is achievable in any other science.” Completion of Vignette №21, Probability is not Gambling, and all of №23, What is a Good Small Sample? (Unfortunately I don’t seem to have №22.) Then I talk about various things for a few minutes, including the Chernobyl tragedy of 1986.
  • 2023–06–06 Vignette №24, A Tracer Has No Pharmacology, concluding the first volume (really binder) of Vignettes in Nuclear Medicine by Marshall Brucer, MD. The material most interesting to the general public is mainly in this first volume, so I will probably stop here, absent requests to continue. Also a great deal of commentary and discussion from me.
  • 2023–06–09 A piece in the Wall Street Journal leads me to read from that monumental work of supercilious Victorian moralizing, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. I start at the beginning (of the 1841 edition, which is somewhat different in content and arrangement than the 1852 edition) with John Law.