Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 14th Oct 2007 15:12 UTC
This week's 'big' news on OSNews was about software patents. You know, those things that say you cannot stack four pixels on top of one another unless you pay money to the guy who invented four-pixel-stacks (or the guy who bought the guy who invented four-pixel-stacks). A company called IP Innovation, LLC, has sued Novell and Red Hat for infringement of the company's IP portfolio. Software patents are of course generally completely ridiculous, so I will not focus on that here. I want to focus on something else.
Thread beginning with comment 278303
RE: non-sensical article
by Obscurus on Mon 15th Oct 2007 06:16 UTC in reply to "non-sensical article"

Member since:
2006-04-20

To use your coin toss example, it could very well be a coincidence. A 1/8 chance of something happening is by no means improbable. A lot of people have very funny ideas about statistics that don't add up in the final analysis. Because the probability of one coin toss does not predict or affect the outcome of another coin toss, some seemingly very improbable things are actually not as improbable as they seem. For example, I could toss three coins and have them all land heads up three times in a row. That would not be terribly amazing. Now, if I tossed those coins two hundred times and they consistently landed heads up more than chance predicts, then you might say there was something odd about those coins or the person tossing them, but even then, unless you had evidence that there was something fishy going on, the laws of probability allow for random chance to produce the same coin toss results ad infinitum, because one coin toss is unrelated to another.

You cannot aggregate the probabilities of isolated events unless there is a causal relationship between them. A whole bunch of improbable things can occur by chance, and it is only when there is a common thread binding them together that you can make a linkage between them, and say it is more than just chance.

Probability alone is not sufficient to rule something out (or in). Winning the lotto jackpot is very improbable for any given ticket buyer (usually something like 1/50,000,000), yet enough people buy enough tickets that it is a near certainty that one or more of them will win lotto.

Now, in the case at hand, there is insufficient evidence to draw linkages between the isolated points and to start saying there is something sinister and underhanded going on. Thom has analysed the issue correctly IMO.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: non-sensical article
by autocrat on Mon 15th Oct 2007 09:05 in reply to "RE: non-sensical article"
Member since:
2007-10-14

"Now, in the case at hand, there is insufficient evidence to draw linkages between the isolated points and to start saying there is something sinister and underhanded going on."

We're not talking inanimate, non-sentient objects being cast in such a manner to generate randomness - we're talking complex autonomous conscious entities/agents operating within an environment that strongly fosters self-interest via profit-motive.

Applying coin-flipping probability to such human/corporate behavior is... absurd.

There are no 'isolated points' in the situation under scrutiny, any more than the economy could be said to merely be a large aggregation of isolated events operating within a vacuum.

"Thom has analysed the issue correctly IMO."

In my opinion, he has analysed and framed the issue very poorly on every account aside from the single obvious fact that the connections and circumstantial evidence do not amount to sufficient empirical proof for MS to be held guilty of (...something) - in a court of law. Well, (to use his words) _no_shit_!

However it seems he's going so far as to actually belittle all the elements involved, as though the situation isn't even vaguely questionable - let alone suspicious in its own right. If one were to take his arguments at face value, there would never be reason to ever even _suspect_ anybody of anything without ample, pre-existing, self-evident, overwhelming evidence -- clear motive is insufficient to be suspicious, debateably plausible circumstantial evidence is insufficient to be suspicious, and past antisocial behavior/history is insufficient to be suspicious; even the combination of all three is... insufficient... to. be. suspicious. Wow, talk about a criminal _paradise_!

Edited 2007-10-15 09:08

Reply Parent Score: 1