Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rules of Evidence

Sometimes people need to learn the rules of conditional probability.

A story that I read went as following (not 100% sure if this is true but seems to kind of line up with the evidence).

"In the famous murder trial, OJ Simpson matched a blood test that 1 out of 1,000,000 people match. Johnny Cochrane's defense was along the lines of "There are six men walking around LA who could have killed Nicole Brown."

Yes, but the chance that OJ is guilty given that he matched the blood test AND she is his ex-wife is way better than 1 in 6.

Cut to today and Amy Winehouse's death.

Police said the cause of her death is being treated as "unexplained," rejecting speculation that she died from a drug overdose as "inappropriate."

Of 27 year old women who die suddenly and unexplainedly, I'm not sure what the proportion of "drug overdose" is. I'm going to guess one out of 20 or so -- heart attacks and strokes aren't terribly common in this age demographic.

But given that Winehouse used heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and alcohol, at the same time....the probability that Amy Winehouse died of a drug overdose is a lot higher that one in 20.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"I was desirous that they should not be destroyed"

Thursday night, 8:30, in a long-sleeve shirt in a cold, windy, 55-degree evening in San Francisco. Standing outside with a bunch of friends from church, who all met up at Off The Grid. Great convo with a guy I met named KC.

KC: I mean, I flew out to New York and saw the Book of Mormon musical the first night it was out. It was absolutely amazing. You know, it was profane and sacreligious and all that. But the details – they got them all right. The baptismal dress. Immersion. Shout outs to Abinadi. The Jospeh Smith – they dressed him up in exactly the costume from the visitor’s center – they went to Salt Lake for that.

But a few things, a few lines; this one stuck in my head.

“These people, who had nowhere else to turn – we gave them something amazing.”

I was on exchange with the elders, and we were teaching this girl, who was telling us how she went to college, was kind of disenchanted with the party scene, and came for a while back to San Francisco to figure her life out. She was getting all teary-eyed, asking what her purpose is.

And that’s the line that came into my head.

"These people, who had nowhere else to turn – we gave them something amazing.”

Some church members, I guess it bugs me when they just kind of trash the musical unseen, without giving it any credit. And I can see where they’re coming from, I have a friend that’s serving in Uganada and I can see things from his side; and I’ve been a missionary. But still.

Me: What specifically are you frustrated about?

I mean, are you frustrated because you don’t want to argue with them but you feel they’re wrong? Are you frustrated because they’re coming off the wrong way by badmouthing it, and giving Mormons – and you – a bad reputation? Are you frustrated because you think they’re putting their spiritual progress in jeopardy by their attitude?

KC: Hmm...the best way that’s coming to me to describe this is from the Book of Mormon.

[pulls out his iPhone to the Scriptures app]

“I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them—but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.” (Mosiah 9:1)

This guy, he’s sent out to spy, to figure out how the Lamanites can be destroyed so the Nephites can get their land back. But he gets there and says – heck, there are good things here. Good people. And I don’t want them to be destroyed.

I have been among these people. A spy, so to speak. And yes, I see their blasphemies and their idolatry. But I also see the good in them. And I don’t desire for them to be destroyed.

[Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. -SB]