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Old January 15, 2009, 10:47 AM   #77
psyfly
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 27, 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 761
Quote:
Past gunfights don't determine what wil lhappen in a new gunfight, true, but they do give us an indication of what is likely to happen and what is unlikely
Hmm. No, not really. Not for any particular single gunfight.

This is a quite common mistake for people to make about statistics; even people who have had training and should know better.

It is very common, for example, for physicians (most of whom have had some training in statistics) to quote statistics on medications and procedures in such a way as to communicate to the patient that: Because a certain medication/procedure has been shown to be effective in 78% of cases, then, should the patient choose this medication/procedure, she has a 78% chance of success.

Not so, of course.

In fact, no probability value for success/failure (in this one case) can be assigned with any confidence. I suppose a person could be excused for saying something like; “I think you’ve got a pretty good chance of success here” (not mathematically sound, but excusable).

Back to the main point; while statistics can be useful in the general sense of preparation for the average occurrence, it would be a serious error to depend upon them to predict how a particular situation will develop, let alone how it will work out in the end.

Stay safe and let your statistic be counted in the alive and breathing set.

Best,

Will
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