So I am in a meeting recently, and someone says he needs a mathematician. A second person points at me and says, “He’s not just a mathematician. He’s a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician.” Then I had to explain it. See, the phrase, on the top of this blog, on my Twitter bio, and many other places, is also on the top of my resume. And the second person had interviewed me. And he asked me about it. It’s not all that clever. I stole it from an episode of The Simpsons.1 In season 5, in
I am in Atlanta right now and tomorrow morning I am giving a talk on the SMBC cartoon, “An Ethical Trilemma”: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – An Ethical Trilemma No Description Despite the punchline, “So far, no ethicists are impressed with the Monty Hall Trolley Problem,” I am impressed with the problem. It represents a much more interesting problem than the comic gives it credit for. You can check out my slides here: This is an embedded Microsoft Office presentation, powered by Office Online. Also, as an aside, this is my first presentation since going to work for the Johns
There’s been a lot of talk about the Pokémon-based robberies, the Pokémon stabbing, and even a guy who quit his job to play Pokémon full time. There’s often a reaction when something new and different comes out, and we are used to it. Every generation complains the next is going to hell. Today’s edition brings a game that has swept the English-speaking world and will soon take the rest. Amanda Yates of Highya asks what parents need to know about Pokémon GO. While there’s a focus on risks, I told the story of how my children and I play the
On Saturday, I discussed the ethics of The Purge on Breakthrough Entertainment on KPHX in Phoenix. While The Purge is a bad horror movie, some of the underlying ethical ideas exposed raise some interesting questions. In addition, I discussed how some of the ideas in The Purge reflect the current political environment and oter historical parallels. I also talked about some antecedent media that addressed these ideas including “The Return of the Archons”, “The Lottery”, and The Hunger Games.
The trolley problem is a relatively standard problem in ethics that arose from Phillipa Foot in 1967: Suppose…the driver of a runaway tram which he can only steer from one narrow track on to another; five men are working on one track and one man on the other; anyone on the track he enters is bound to be killed. The question posed is what should the driver of the runaway trolley do. The problem is complicated by the ethical and moral frameworks that surround causation. From a strictly utilitarian point of view, the analysis is straightforward: The driver should steer