[eDebate] Why the 1% doctrine is simply wrong

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Thu Jul 6 20:21:19 CDT 2006


Look, this concept of "1% risk makes the impact inevitable" over the long term
is absurd for a number of reasons.

It is unrealistic. I will ?inevitably? win the lottery. But the odds are that I
will be struck and killed by lightening three times before I hit the big one.
There is the ?thousand monkeys typing for a millions years? analogy. The story
goes that a thousand monkeys typing randomly on a keyboard over a million
years, will, inevitably, write all of Shakespeare?s works. Theoretical
possibility or even theoretical certainty does not meet the test of reality.
With the lottery and monkeys typing example, it is actually possible to
correctly quantify the chances of "hitting the big one" or having a chimp win
the Pulitzer. But, reality tends to bite you in the ass after a while.

More importantly, the Premise is hopelessly flawed.
Here is the problem with the 1% argument. First and foremost, it is attempting
to quantify an unquantifiable risk. What is the standard for determining a 1%
versus a 5% chance of a nuclear war. Even chaos theories have not been able to
quantify basic weather patterns, how on earth can someone be bold enough to
quantify human actions on a global level? The underlying premise that the
chances of a war are quantifiable is simply unfounded, as classic example of
?begging the question.?

Canceling factors prevent.
Next, assuming the premise that the risk can be quantified, the argument ignores
the canceling effects of other probabilities. Example, let?s say (because
everyone else seem to be able to pull such statistics out of their asses) that
U.S. participating in Kyoto increases the risk of nuclear war by 1% each year.
But, at the same time, U.S. participation in the CTBT decreases the risk of
nuclear war by 1%. At that point, the two actions have canceled each other out.
Another example, further Indian/Pakistan development of nuclear weapons increase
the chance of a regional nuclear war via miscalculation by 10%. However,
development of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan increase detterrence,
reduceing the chance of conflict escalting to a nuclear war by 10%.

It ignores, changes that fundamentally alter the orginal premise. Call it chaos
theory, responsive feedbacks, or quantum mechanics. Often the orginal basis of
a prediction is altered by intervening factors, making the underlying data
unrealiable for the basis of future prediction. Example, again pulling another
statistic out of my ass because everyone else gets to do it. In 1982 the whole
world was convinced that Reagan's re-election would increase the risk of Global
Nuclear war by 50%. Now, based on your handy dandy, but horribly flawed,
supposition that mathmatical precision can be applied (I ask, what is the
observational baseline to determine a 1% versus a 50% increase in nuclear war
happening?)we now have Reagan in power in 1982. At 50% chance, we should have
had a nuclear war by 1983, or at least by 1986, right? Buh! Whu! What happened?
Well my little padowins, Chernobyl blew up, the Soviet Union Collapsed and I got
laid. All of these intervening factors (ok me getting laid did not effect it,
but maybe it did because I can make up any percentage I want when it comes to
nuclear war risks!)rolled the original 50% chance back.

You are all falling for the fallacy of big numbers and applying statistics where
they simply do not apply. Might I suggest a course in Advanced Statistics or
Blalock's textbook to drive the point home?

One last point, In multiple universes, using infinity as the measure of time,
ALL acts,omissions, and consequences, even ones that are mutually exclusive,
are "inevitable.

Scott

p.s.

Just so you know, the Big Dick, Cheney's rationale for fighting wars based on a
"1% chance makes a terrorist attack inevitable" is just as flawed and
indefensible. I personally prefer the "Let's hunt them down like animals crush
them and demonstrate the superiority of American power." That is a hell of a
lot more defensible than these horrible appeals to false statistics.












More information about the Mailman mailing list