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Francis Galton - Wikipedia
Francis Galton
via Read it Later on May 01, 2018 at 10:00AM
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may 2018 by jaredconnor
Information Processing: Darwin, Mendel and statistical fluctuations
Freeman Dyson discusses Darwin's failure to discover Mendelian inheritance. Had Darwin a stronger grasp of statistics (then under development by his cousin Francis Galton), he might have discovered the properties of the basic units of inheritance, so central to his theory of natural selection.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Galton–Watson process - Wikipedia
The Galton–Watson process is a branching stochastic process arising from Francis Galton's statistical investigation of the extinction of family names. The process models family names as patrilineal (passed from father to son), while offspring are randomly either male or female, and names become extinct if the family name line dies out (holders of the family name die without male descendants). This is an accurate description of Y chromosome transmission in genetics, and the model is thus useful for understanding human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups, and is also of use in understanding other processes (as described below); but its application to actual extinction of family names is fraught. In practice, family names change for many other reasons, and dying out of name line is only one factor, as discussed in examples, below; the Galton–Watson process is thus of limited applicability in understanding actual family name distributions.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Generalizing From One Example - Less Wrong
My old professor, David Berman, liked to talk about what he called the "typical mind fallacy", which he illustrated through the following example:

There was a debate, in the late 1800s, about whether "imagination" was simply a turn of phrase or a real phenomenon. That is, can people actually create images in their minds which they see vividly, or do they simply say "I saw it in my mind" as a metaphor for considering what it looked like?

Upon hearing this, my response was "How the stars was this actually a real debate? Of course we have mental imagery. Anyone who doesn't think we have mental imagery is either such a fanatical Behaviorist that she doubts the evidence of her own senses, or simply insane." Unfortunately, the professor was able to parade a long list of famous people who denied mental imagery, including some leading scientists of the era. And this was all before Behaviorism even existed.

The debate was resolved by Francis Galton, a fascinating man who among other achievements invented eugenics, the "wisdom of crowds", and standard deviation. Galton gave people some very detailed surveys, and found that some people did have mental imagery and others didn't. The ones who did had simply assumed everyone did, and the ones who didn't had simply assumed everyone didn't, to the point of coming up with absurd justifications for why they were lying or misunderstanding the question. There was a wide spectrum of imaging ability, from about five percent of people with perfect eidetic imagery to three percent of people completely unable to form mental images.

Dr. Berman dubbed this the Typical Mind Fallacy: the human tendency to believe that one's own mental structure can be generalized to apply to everyone else's.


my favorite comment:
Interesting illustration of mental imagery (from Dennett):

Picture a 3 by 3 grid. Then picture the words "gas", "oil", and "dry" spelled downwards in the columns left to right in that order. Looking at the picture in your mind, read the words across on the grid.

I can figure out what the words are of course, but it is very hard for me to read them off the grid. I should be able to if I could actually picture it. It was fascinating for me to think that this isn't true for everyone.
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october 2016 by nhaliday
Mathematical cake slice
Francis Galton's strategy on how to cut cake such that the edges do not dry up when eaten over several days.
galton  cake  cut 
june 2014 by erd

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