Like Paul Erdős, I resorted to experimentation. Very much unlike Paul Erdős the computer program I wrote contained a one-off error in its PRNG that coincidentally confirmed the wrong result. I then spent a day or so on Usenet insisting stubbornly on the wrong solution until some very kind person on sci.crypt made a complete truth table as a proof. That exhaustive proof immediately convinced me of my idiocy.
Lesson: If a bunch of smart and educated people tell you that you're wrong, then you're probably wrong.
It was that problem that made me realize that although physicists deal with probabilities all the time, we don't really understand them.
Either way, you should never feel bad about getting the monty hall problem wrong because it was never set up as a fair question. Marilyn Savant made some incredible assumptions about the premise of the question that were never clear and thus almost completely made up the question herself.
Not always the case. As they say, science advances one funeral (of smart and educated people) at a time...
Like...when someone makes reference to a given probability X "changing" from ~33% to ~67%, they are referring to the updated model that we use to calculate the probability. Nothing in reality has changed, but rather the model has.
Well, you do have to first recognize that the particular bunch is composed of smart and educated people...
I always try to weave some skepticism into my thought process, because you never know when some of your fundamental assumptions can be wrong.
A problem with this is that there are now increasingly more people who automatically opt for the "disappointingly banal" story even in cases when the good story is the actually true one (and insist on it) -- because it enables them to take pride in "debunking" and feel superior to others.
In other words, where once most people went for the "good story" for psychological reasons (because it's more satisfying, makes for interesting talk, etc), now, with the raise of sites like Snopes, "fact-checking" forums, sceptic sites, and so on, there's an increasing equally bogus motive for preferring the banal story.
(And this is orthogonal to Occam's razor. For one, because the banal and the interesting story might be of equal simplicity and with equally few prerequisites. Beside's Occam's razor is just an observation, not an absolute law: sometimes the more elaborate course is indeed what happened).
I enjoy being a jerk and ruining a story as much as the next person, but you have to check your facts before doing something like that.
Are there any good examples you've come across of someone miscorrecting a "good" story to a banal one?
If this had been clear from the beginning, there would not have been so much confusion about this problem. So in this case, vos Savant is also quite "wrong".
This whole section of history should just be erased because of how much controversy it caused without any serious progression.
>I tell my students that, in the first place, they need to get over the fear of making mistakes.
>So my answer to the question “How to be wrong?” is: “Early and often!”
>And if you can’t be genuinely modest, fake it. Develop a habit of always acting in such a way that if you prove to be wrong, it won’t make you look really really bad.
>certain truths may be denied to us unless we pass through a preparatory stage of error.
>For now, I’ll skip ahead to the moral: Sometimes, when you find the right hole, you shouldn’t just put one foot into it. You should jump in with both feet the way Alice did, and see what kind of wonderland it leads to.
I don't think that saying the writer here 'simply states that it is "conceivable" that Semmelweis' attitude (whether warranted or not) may have negatively impacted his message' is a reasonable interpretation of that passage, to say the least. (I also can't see that it "clearly assumes" what you say it does. You probably wouldn't link to the guy's wikipedia page if you assume people know not only who he is but the background too)
What was his 'attitude'? It drove him nuts that no-one would listen?
It's also worth pointing out that the phrase "it's conceivable that" is a fairly cheap rhetorical trick: you can advance any ludicrous argument with no evidence or material support while forcing anyone who disagrees with you to produce proofs that are beyond all reasonable doubt. "It's conceivable that if the Nazis had won WWII, we would have colonies on the Moon by now." "It's conceivable that Yahoo's stock price will increase ten-fold in the next year." "It's conceivable that eating dog shit is the key to human immortality." Sure, it's conceivable but because it's neither plausible nor likely, and because no valid argument can be advanced to support the claim, it's not worth talking about, unless we're writing alternative history fiction. Yet authors often use this or similar phrases to propose arguments that they personally believe but know they cannot defend.
I'm offering a severe criticism of the writer, and sticking up for Semmelweis. I'm not sure what you're doing, besides tempting me to use the phrase 'virtue signalling' for the first time ever.
There is really lesson there, you can alienate people enough so they end up not listening to reasonable parts of what you are pushing for.
How does that not strike you as unnecessarily harsh and unwarranted? The statement reeks of viewing history through the modern lens, and the author doubles down on the next sentence suggesting that the scientific community would have somehow opened their eyes if only Semmelweis had either not been born or had been less of an asshole, or something.
The rest of paragraph explains why author thinks he was wrong. It would be interesting to read historical dispute, but your complaint seems to be less about different interpretation of history and more about making criticism of past personalities taboo.