Author Topic: Survivor bias  (Read 4229 times)

wigginhall

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2015, 02:43:36 PM »
It reminds me of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, also known as the clustering illusion.   (Guy shoots wildly at the side of a barn, and draws a target afterwards, to show how good he is).

The interesting thing about this example, is that the hypothesis is made after the information has been gathered.  This easily leads to false clustering.  A lot of historical explanations may be prone to this. 
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Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #26 on: December 21, 2015, 02:46:21 PM »
How would you describe it?

I wouldn't describe it as a field at all, and the phenomenon has been known of at least since the Second World War.
First of all it is not the idea that things survive by pure chance.
Secondly it is the overlooking of things which do not survive by focussing on the success of that which survives at no stage was Jesus Resurrectionism put forward without suggesting comparison with Elvis resurrectionism. The accusation of survivorship bias was inappropriate.
Thirdly survivorship bias applies when the competitors for the status of survivor are similar or competing for the same thing and when they fail that's it ideas don't fail in the same way.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 02:49:14 PM by On stage before it wore off. »

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2015, 02:54:50 PM »
It reminds me of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, also known as the clustering illusion.   (Guy shoots wildly at the side of a barn, and draws a target afterwards, to show how good he is).

The interesting thing about this example, is that the hypothesis is made after the information has been gathered.  This easily leads to false clustering.  A lot of historical explanations may be prone to this.
How would you describe saying x is the same as Y and then subsequently changing the definition of x to fit Y as the distinction between X and Y becomes apparent. e.g. God is as ridiculous as a leprechaun, But Leprechauns are funny little green clad irish men who live at the end of rainbows.........ah but leprechauns also have the same attributes as god therefore God is as ridiculous as a leprechaun........Is that Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy?

jeremyp

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2015, 03:00:58 PM »
First of all it is not the idea that things survive by pure chance.
Secondly it is the overlooking of things which do not survive by focussing on the success of that which survives at no stage was Jesus Resurrectionism put forward without suggesting comparison with Elvis resurrectionism. The accusation of survivorship bias was inappropriate.
Thirdly survivorship bias applies when the competitors for the status of survivor are similar or competing for the same thing and when they fail that's it ideas don't fail in the same way.
OK, I can see you are struggling.

Survivorship bias is when you try to draw inferences about entities but you only take into account the ones that are still around. My favourite example would be the way people always claim that music was better back in the Sixties, but they only remember the good music from that era.

As applied to Christianity: people sometimes survey all the extant religions and then claim some feature that only their religion has makes it unique and therefore True. But they ignore all the religions that have died out and that had the same features as their favourite.
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Gordon

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2015, 03:04:08 PM »
First of all it is not the idea that things survive by pure chance.
Secondly it is the overlooking of things which do not survive by focussing on the success of that which survives at no stage was Jesus Resurrectionism put forward without suggesting comparison with Elvis resurrectionism. The accusation of survivorship bias was inappropriate.
Thirdly survivorship bias applies when the competitors for the status of survivor are similar or competing for the same thing.

I don't think you are getting this, Vlad, since this point has nothing to do with anyone being resurrected - be that Jesus or Elvis (although why on earth you've dragged poor old Elvis into this beats me).

Try it this way - that Christianity has survived to date doesn't confirm the truth of core Christian claims (Jesus being divine etc) because there are other reasons for its survival, such as its role in political arrangements and the associated status and power which occurred during the latter days of the Roman Empire and has persisted ever since, although it is in decline (just like the Roman Empire!).

So far as I remember it was guys like Theodosius who were more relevant to this than Elvis (who may have been the better singer, though we'll never know).     

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2015, 03:13:27 PM »
OK, I can see you are struggling.

Survivorship bias is when you try to draw inferences about entities but you only take into account the ones that are still around. My favourite example would be the way people always claim that music was better back in the Sixties, but they only remember the good music from that era.

As applied to Christianity: people sometimes survey all the extant religions and then claim some feature that only their religion has makes it unique and therefore True. But they ignore all the religions that have died out and that had the same features as their favourite.
Firstly Religion does not fit into survivorship bias studies since religions often do not have the same features as each other.

Your example doesn't make impact because it is merely a question of taste and preference. In the case of Christianity I would move that it is nobody's cup of tea but are forced to accept it's truths because of the strength of it's challenge to the ego.

Survivorship bias doesn't really have much going for it as an explanatory for anything.
In the UK would you say there is survivorship bias for secular humanism?

Finally I can still see you mistaking survivorship bias for The reason things survive.

wigginhall

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2015, 03:22:00 PM »
How would you describe saying x is the same as Y and then subsequently changing the definition of x to fit Y as the distinction between X and Y becomes apparent. e.g. God is as ridiculous as a leprechaun, But Leprechauns are funny little green clad irish men who live at the end of rainbows.........ah but leprechauns also have the same attributes as god therefore God is as ridiculous as a leprechaun........Is that Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy?

That seems quite different to me, since it predicts that, using a certain description of God,  many other things are also described by it.   I don't think the point is that God is as ridiculous as a leprechaun, but that leprechauns are predicted by accounts of the supernatural, along with an infinite number of other things.  In other words, the descriptions are too powerful and are not constrained, and essentially, empty.
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Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2015, 03:23:04 PM »
I don't think you are getting this, Vlad, since this point has nothing to do with anyone being resurrected - be that Jesus or Elvis (although why on earth you've dragged poor old Elvis into this beats me).

Try it this way - that Christianity has survived to date doesn't confirm the truth of core Christian claims     
Gordon, I think you don't know what the core Christian claims are. That is because you are guilty of survivorship bias toward Secular Humanism.

By all means prove me wrong by listing them here and now.

The idea that ideas survive through pure chance is as nonsense as saying mathematical equations survive through pure chance, or combinations of numbers survive through pure chance. An idea which is universal never dies nor mutates.

That you guys compare Leprechauns and spaghetti with God or sixties music with religion just shows how misinformed you guys are.

wigginhall

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #33 on: December 21, 2015, 03:28:18 PM »
It's not spaghetti, it's the flying spaghetti monster.   This came up in relation to teaching intelligent design in US schools, when some critics argued that it was just as valid to teach the FSM.    In other words, the FSM has no empirical validity, and can be argued into existence through all kinds of arbitrary means, just like intelligent design. 
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ProfessorDavey

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #34 on: December 21, 2015, 03:46:32 PM »
The idea that ideas survive through pure chance is as nonsense as saying mathematical equations survive through pure chance, or combinations of numbers survive through pure chance. An idea which is universal never dies nor mutates.
Rubbish - many ideas take hold because they appear at the right time and the right place - so by chance they are able to perpetuate and take hold. Others simply vanish because they never had that good luck.

And the same applies for leading people as well as ideas.

You might want to read Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers' - a great book which explains why hard work isn't enough on its own to ensure success (whether of a person or an idea) but that good luck is also essential. He uses some great examples to show this, for example:

The fact that most high level sports leagues include players biased toward birthdays in one half of the year - why because at the earliest stage teams are based on year groups with (for example) a 1st Sept to 31st August cutoff. For the very young there will be a massive difference between a Sept born and August born child in the same 'year' and those older kids seem better and get the opportunities - pure luck of birth date.

That virtually all the successful corporate lawyers in 1970s New York were jewish from the same area and virtually the same age. Why because by luck they were born into a small generation (low birth rate), by luck were a generation who benefited from high quality public schooling in the 1940s, by luck they were excluded from the established 'WASP' legal firms and had to set up alone, by luck they were just at the right time and right place for major changes in corporation law that they understood in the 1970s and the established 'WASP' legal firms had ignored because they thought this kind of work was beneath them. So they cleaned up - virtually all the most successful being almost identical demographically, and the reason for their success - good luck. Had they been born 10 years earlier or 10 years later they wouldn't have been successful. Good luck abounds.

So how does this equate to the success of christianity. Well I think it benefitted from two major elements of good fortune, both of which relate to the Roman empire. First the presence of the empire throughout the Mediterranean and southern europe allowed people and ideas to spread in a manner that would have been impassible had there not been a unifying empire across that region. And secondly they hit lucky as just at the time when tiny pockets of christianity were becoming established through that empire, the need to deal with a slow decline in the empire by the 4thC meant that they encountered an emperor ripe for new ideas to try to reinvigorate the empire and stop the rot, and was receptive to the idea of a new religion.

Without either of these, and noting that christianity failed to take root in the place and time of its inception, then I doubt anyone would be talking about christianity today - and as with the Gladwell examples, both of these elements of good fortune for christianity were just luck.

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2015, 03:52:15 PM »
Rubbish - many ideas take hold because they appear at the right time and the right place - so by chance they are able to perpetuate and take hold. Others simply vanish because they never had that good luck.

No that is a case of Fitness, not pure chance.

Survivorship bias is about situations where competition has broadly an equal chance of surviving but gets through by chance and the survivors characteristics are mistaken for the real reason of success. It is a mistake in analysis. I don't think universal ideas are subject to such a process but interview candidates may be.

Gordon

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #36 on: December 21, 2015, 03:53:34 PM »
Gordon, I think you don't know what the core Christian claims are. That is because you are guilty of survivorship bias toward Secular Humanism.

By all means prove me wrong by listing them here and now.

The idea that ideas survive through pure chance is as nonsense as saying mathematical equations survive through pure chance, or combinations of numbers survive through pure chance. An idea which is universal never dies nor mutates.

That you guys compare Leprechauns and spaghetti with God or sixties music with religion just shows how misinformed you guys are.

You seem to be in headless-chicken mode, Vlad.

This isn't really about resurrections, as you mysteriously suggested earlier when you threw Elvis into the mix with Jesus - it is to do with the bias that can occur where something that has survived is thought by some to confirm the 'truth' of whatever its details are just because it has survived.

So, where someone thinks that because Christianity has survived in organised formats for nigh on 2,000 years it means that its core claims (God, resurrected Jesus etc) are likely to be true but in doing so they fail to take into account other reasons for the survival of Christianity, such as I noted earlier. Put another way, that Christianity has survived whereas the worship of the Roman pantheon of Gods hasn't, when at one point they co-existed, does not imply than the Christian theistic claims are 'truer' just because Christianity has outlived the worship of Jupiter, Apollo etc - there are other reasons for this situation that don't involve core theistic beliefs. 

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #37 on: December 21, 2015, 03:55:51 PM »


That virtually all the successful corporate lawyers in 1970s New York were jewish from the same area and virtually the same age. Why because by luck they were born into a small generation (low birth rate), by luck were a generation who benefited from high quality public schooling in the 1940s, by luck they were excluded from the established 'WASP' legal firms and had to set up alone, by luck they were just at the right time and right place for major changes in corporation law that they understood in the 1970s and the established 'WASP' legal firms had ignored because they thought this kind of work was beneath them. So they cleaned up - virtually all the most successful being almost identical demographically, and the reason for their success - good luck. Had they been born 10 years earlier or 10 years later they wouldn't have been successful.
yes but they were lawyers Davey.

Had they been juggling unicyclists I would buy that it happened by pure chance

ProfessorDavey

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2015, 03:59:05 PM »
yes but they were lawyers Davey.

Had they been juggling unicyclists I would buy that it happened by pure chance
But their ability to become lawyers in the first place was down to good luck of time and place of birth.

have you actually read the book or just making ill informed comments as usual Vlad?

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2015, 04:03:40 PM »
You seem to be in headless-chicken mode, Vlad.

This isn't really about resurrections, as you mysteriously suggested earlier when you threw Elvis into the mix with Jesus - it is to do with the bias that can occur where something that has survived is thought by some to confirm the 'truth' of whatever its details are just because it has survived.

So, where someone thinks that because Christianity has survived in organised formats for nigh on 2,000 years it means that its core claims (God, resurrected Jesus etc) are likely to be true but in doing so they fail to take into account other reasons for the survival of Christianity, such as I noted earlier. Put another way, that Christianity has survived whereas the worship of the Roman pantheon of Gods hasn't, when at one point they co-existed, does not imply than the Christian theistic claims are 'truer' just because Christianity has outlived the worship of Jupiter, Apollo etc - there are other reasons for this situation that don't involve core theistic beliefs.
I would propose that Christianity had less chance of survival than loads of religions. I do think though that the 'survivor' you have identified is churchianity rather than Christianity although that only survives on christianity's coat tail and not the other way round.

I understand that what you are saying is because religions are all shit it is just a matter of fashion or chance that each survive.....Whereas Atheisms moves ahead because of it's central and wonderful truths.......But I disagree that that is survivorship bias but a reason for why things survive that I take issue with.

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2015, 04:05:44 PM »
But their ability to become lawyers in the first place was down to good luck of time and place of birth.

.....and not ability?

bluehillside Retd.

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2015, 04:27:31 PM »
Chunderer,

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I think you have been led to believe or at least there has been intent to lead to believe that any old religious narrative or doctrine will do and it's purely a matter of chance. That it has nothing to do with content.

Pretty much - that's how survivor bias works. We tend to assume that winners are winners because of some inherent quality rather than because of a series of chance events along the way that the losers we don't see didn't get. The success of religions in which you don't believe should teach you that - if they're wrong, why did they thrive?

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I dispute that as being very much akin to saying the wright brothers just got luckier and it was pure chance that Icarus didn't  start the age of flight.

No you bozo - you're confusing cultural constructs (religions, language, morality and such like) with empirical data. Doh!

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I was even being fair about it.

Blimey it really must be Christmas...

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The definition of survivor bias is that the losers or those who don't survivor are overlooked when success is analysed. I called for a comparison between Jesus resurrectionism and Elvis resurrectionism. I am not therefore guilty of survivorship bias and the accusation was a red herring.

Doh! revisited. One caught the wind and thrived, the other didn't. That's how it works - start with lots of contenders and most will fail, but some won't. The mistake is to think that the few winners were necessarily better or more true, rather than that they happened to catch the breaks.

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Full marks to you Jack for pointing out whether any ''success'' of Christianity was due to chance or whether there are other factors.

And Islam? Or Judaism? Or any of the countless other religions that had top spot at certain times and in certain places? What were the "other factors" that made the Norse gods the winners do you think?

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Asserting chance or survivor bias is intellectual laziness designed to head off any further investigation of whether the claim of chance or consumer pressure are indeed the explanation for the survival of Christianity.

No, it's just a description of a common and well-described phenomenon that most people miss.

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The Wikipedia article suggests the contexts where survival bias has an effect. Religion is not there. Again by calling for comparison between Elvis resurrectionism and Jesus resurrection I demonstrate that I am the one free from survivorship bias.

Please - stop embarrassing yourself. Nor are 99 other types of cultural construct there, but that doesn't mean that the phenomenon doesn't apply to them either. What do you think "examples" even means for Pete's sake?

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I think allsorts of arguments are getting tangled and confused and conflated but hey, That's Bluehillside for you.

Er, actually that's Vlad for you. Stop tangling and confusing them and you might have a chance of grasping them.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 04:43:04 PM by bluehillside »
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Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2015, 04:57:45 PM »
Chunderer,

Pretty much - that's how survivor bias works. We tend to assume that winners are winners because of some inherent quality rather than because of a series of chance events along the way that the losers we don't see didn't get. The success of religions in which you don't believe should teach you that - if they're wrong, why did they thrive?

No you bozo - you're confusing cultural constructs (religions, language, morality and such like) with empirical data. Doh!

Blimey it really must be Christmas...

Doh! revisited. One caught the wind and thrived, the other didn't. That's how it works - start with lots of contenders and most will fail, but some won't. The mistake is to think that the few winners were necessarily better or more true, rather than that they happened to catch the breaks.

And Islam? Or Judaism? Or any of the countless other religions that had top spot at certain times and in certain places? What were the "other factors" that made the Norse gods the winners do you think?

No, it's just a description of a common and well-described phenomenon that most people miss.

Please - stop embarrassing yourself. Nor are 99 other types of cultural construct there, but that doesn't mean that the phenomenon doesn't apply to them either. What do you think "examples" even means for Pete's sake?

Er, actually that's Vlad for you. Stop tangling and confusing them and you might have a chance of grasping them.
I'm talking about fitness. There are only certain things that fit....That's why Jewish Lawyers succeeded in the American legal profession rather than Jewish unicyclists. Your take on things would have lawyers and unicyclists competing on an even footing.

Your confusion is you think that religion as with morality and everything else with you is a matter of taste.

Your theory of why things survive just borrows a few ideas fro survivorship bias but allows you to slight not only religions or philosophies but also anybody making them. Another Hillside shuffle where the tactics are obvious.

ProfessorDavey

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2015, 05:01:25 PM »
.....and not ability?
No because realising ability requires opportunity, and that was the key for this particular cohort - they, through massive good luck, had opportunity which the generation before them and those after didn't.

So the key point here was schooling and birthrate. In New York the birth rate virtually halved from 1919 through to 1935, but the city had invested massively in public schooling on the basis of the 1919 birth rate and continued to do so - so the 1935 born had massively greater resource spent on them through their schooling than those born earlier or later.

And then when time came to go to university the same luck was with them. Due to the exceptionally low north rate universities could not afford to be so selective so the kind of kids who wouldn't have had a hope of getting into University of Michigan or Columbia a generation earlier (or later) were able to get in. Sure they worked hard but the key was the good luck of being born at a time of low birth rate, when public schools were being very well funded and top universities were accessible.

Later their good luck was to be actually excluded from the establish WASP law firms and to become experienced (because they had to) in areas of law those firms shunned. So when corporation rules changed in the 1970s they were perfectly placed to clean up. The key being good luck - hard work and ability are all well and good, but without the luck they wouldn't have been successful.

ProfessorDavey

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2015, 05:04:06 PM »
I'm talking about fitness. There are only certain things that fit....That's why Jewish Lawyers succeeded in the American legal profession rather than Jewish unicyclists.
I doubt you have read the book but what I am talking about is why jewish lawyers born in 1935 achieved success while those born in 1930 didn't, nor those born in 1940. The reason why 1935 is the key is due to the good luck of being born in that year for the reasons I suggested.

This has nothing to do with unicyclists.

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #45 on: December 21, 2015, 05:08:20 PM »
No because realising ability requires opportunity, and that was the key for this particular cohort - they, through massive good luck, had opportunity which the generation before them and those after didn't.

So the key point here was schooling and birthrate. In New York the birth rate virtually halved from 1919 through to 1935, but the city had invested massively in public schooling on the basis of the 1919 birth rate and continued to do so - so the 1935 born had massively greater resource spent on them through their schooling than those born earlier or later.

And then when time came to go to university the same luck was with them. Due to the exceptionally low north rate universities could not afford to be so selective so the kind of kids who wouldn't have had a hope of getting into University of Michigan or Columbia a generation earlier (or later) were able to get in. Sure they worked hard but the key was the good luck of being born at a time of low birth rate, when public schools were being very well funded and top universities were accessible.

Later their good luck was to be actually excluded from the establish WASP law firms and to become experienced (because they had to) in areas of law those firms shunned. So when corporation rules changed in the 1970s they were perfectly placed to clean up. The key being good luck - hard work and ability are all well and good, but without the luck they wouldn't have been successful.
Yes but you are guilty of survivor bias here because you have overlooked the Jewish unicyclists here and ignored any effort to explain their obvious lack of success in corporate law at this time.

ProfessorDavey

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #46 on: December 21, 2015, 05:15:27 PM »
Yes but you are guilty of survivor bias here because you have overlooked the Jewish unicyclists here and ignored any effort to explain their obvious lack of success in corporate law at this time.
Nope - jewish unicyclists weren't successful for obvious reasons.

But neither were jewish lawyers born in 1930 or 1940, nor were christian lawyers born in 1935, yet jewish lawyers born in 1935 were - why because all the elements for success lined up, and many of them were down to the pure luck of year of birth.

Private Frazer

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #47 on: December 21, 2015, 05:21:59 PM »
I doubt you have read the book but what I am talking about is why jewish lawyers born in 1935 achieved success while those born in 1930 didn't, nor those born in 1940. The reason why 1935 is the key is due to the good luck of being born in that year for the reasons I suggested.

This has nothing to do with unicyclists.
Why not.....Since your theory depends on so many counterfactuals, why not consider Jewish unicyclists?

In any case we are not talking about survivorship bias here which is something to do with the analysis of the example...........but reasons.

Unicyclists are critical here because they illustrate the role of fitness and the effort of entering the field as opposed to pure chance.


ProfessorDavey

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2015, 05:28:52 PM »
Why not.....Since your theory depends on so many counterfactuals, why not consider Jewish unicyclists?

In any case we are not talking about survivorship bias here which is something to do with the analysis of the example...........but reasons.

Unicyclists are critical here because they illustrate the role of fitness and the effort of entering the field as opposed to pure chance.
Perhaps some of the more able children born to jewish families in 1919 became unicyclists rather than lawyers as the odds were stacked against them - had they been born in 1935 with the same ability they would have been able to become top lawyers for the reasons I described.

And to ask again - have you actually read the book.

We could use top ice hockey players born in Jan, Feb or March, or richest people ever (adjusted for inflation) and being born in the 1830s and being American.

Each one based on luck of birth year - or month of birth.

bluehillside Retd.

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Re: Survivor bias
« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2015, 05:30:33 PM »
Chunderingaboutheplaceagain,

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I'm talking about fitness. There are only certain things that fit....That's why Jewish Lawyers succeeded in the American legal profession rather than Jewish unicyclists. Your take on things would have lawyers and unicyclists competing on an even footing.

Doh! revisited revisited.

That cohort of putative lawyers were a better "fit", but only in the sense that they happened to be in the right place at the right time. The generations before and after were just as intellectually "fit" as they were, but didn't have the lucky breaks of place and time that they had. 

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Your confusion is you think that religion as with morality and everything else with you is a matter of taste.

No, your confusion is in arbitrarily excluding religion (though presumably only your one) from the category of social constructs as prone to survivor bias as any other. Whether your choice of religion is a matter of "taste" is a different matter - the fact remains that lots of religions you think to be wrong have thrived and waned, and some of them thrive still. If you think that all of them did so by chance but only yours did so because of some inherent truth you're going to have to do some pretty fancy footwork to explain why.   

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Your theory of why things survive just borrows a few ideas fro survivorship bias...

Nearly. It's the mistake you attempted of assuming that the winner you like was the winner because of its inherent quality that is survivor bias rather than a borrowing from it. Countless religions have fallen away and a smaller number have thrived, just as you'd expect when survival and failure is largely down to dumb luck. What makes you think yours to be exempt from that phenomenon?   

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...but allows you to slight not only religions or philosophies but also anybody making them.

No doubt you'll be along soon with an example of this "slighting" then?

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Another Hillside shuffle where the tactics are obvious.

No "tactics" - just some basic observation you fail to grasp and so cannot rebut.
"Science is itself a process based on methodological naturalism, i.e. treating the world as if metaphysical naturalism was the case, but without actually taking a stand on matters philosophical (outside of method)."

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Philosophical_naturalism