Having spent a couple of days away over this bank holiday weekend, I’ve had a chance to catch up on some reading that isn’t directly connected to my OU course. Irrationality, by Stuart Sutherland was a book that was given to me for my last birthday and it’s proved to be an enjoyable read. I particularly enjoyed chapter 15 – ‘Misinterpreting the evidence’ and the first example he gives. I think I’ll try it out on the next internal sales meeting I talk to.
If I toss a coin six times, which sequence is most likely to occur?
1. T T T T T T
2. T T T H H H
3. T H H T T H
Most people pick sequence number 3, but, of course, each sequence is equally likely to occur. There are 64 possible sequences and each coin toss results in a 50% probability of a head or tail. And, crucially, a coin has no memory for previous events!
I also really liked his debunking of psychoanalysis in ‘Mistaking the cause’ as an example of the “like-causes-like” fallacy. But it was his application of the same fallacy to the assertion that foods high in cholesterol cause high blood cholesterol readings that made me sit up and take notice, being someone who feels guilty about putting butter on toast (it tastes nicer than margarine) and eating the occasional spoonful of clotted cream with a scone and jam. Indeed, he concludes the chapter with the moral “Eat what you fancy”.
So, that’s what I’ll do then!