People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

By PZ Myers

Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mathematics & Physics.

Moderators: kiore, Blip, The_Metatron

People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#1  Postby Rumraket » Jan 10, 2015 12:42 am

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/01/05/on-the-importance-of-luck/

On the importance of luck
Posted by PZ Myers on January 5, 2015

That paper that proposed that most cancers were due to bad luck, that is, that they were a consequence of biological factors that could not be controlled, has been surprisingly controversial. I thought it was a fairly unsurprising paper that confirmed what we already suspected, but wow, the furious pushback has been something to behold.

Today, though, a couple of MDs have responded to the paper and reinforce what I said.


...
Half-Life 3 - I want to believe
User avatar
Rumraket
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 13242
Age: 42

Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#2  Postby DarthHelmet86 » Jan 10, 2015 1:46 pm

I think calling "a consequence of biological factors" luck is a bit wrong. I have always understood that there is a chance that cancer could form, that some behaviors and genes could increase or lower this chance but that whether it formed or didn't was not something that could be perfectly calculated or tied to an exact set of circumstances. Two people with the same genes with the same behaviors could have one have cancer form and the other not to my knowledge. Which I must say is based on a vary cursory glance at the topic during high school human biology.

It almost seems that the two groups are talking past each other that both sides essentially agree. But one side has a problem with the word luck being used to describe the outcome of a probability.
I. This is Not a Game
II. Here and Now, You are Alive
User avatar
DarthHelmet86
RS Donator
 
Posts: 10344
Age: 37
Male

Country: Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#3  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 10, 2015 2:08 pm

DarthHelmet86 wrote:I think calling "a consequence of biological factors" luck is a bit wrong. I have always understood that there is a chance that cancer could form, that some behaviors and genes could increase or lower this chance but that whether it formed or didn't was not something that could be perfectly calculated or tied to an exact set of circumstances. Two people with the same genes with the same behaviors could have one have cancer form and the other not to my knowledge. Which I must say is based on a vary cursory glance at the topic during high school human biology.

It almost seems that the two groups are talking past each other that both sides essentially agree. But one side has a problem with the word luck being used to describe the outcome of a probability.

No doubt, you are referring to this article:
Biological bad luck blamed in two-thirds of cancer cases

Jan 1 (Reuters) - Plain old bad luck plays a major role in determining who gets cancer and who does not, according to researchers who found that two-thirds of cancer incidence of various types can be blamed on random mutations and not heredity or risky habits like smoking.
...


In other words, the way I read it, they are making the epidemiological claim that random mutations in the somatic cells are twice as big a risk factor for cancer as inherited mutations and bad habits combined.
May The Voice be with you!
DavidMcC
 
Name: David McCulloch
Posts: 14913
Age: 69
Male

Country: United Kigdom
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#4  Postby DarthHelmet86 » Jan 10, 2015 2:10 pm

No I was referring to the linked blog and to what PZ said.
I. This is Not a Game
II. Here and Now, You are Alive
User avatar
DarthHelmet86
RS Donator
 
Posts: 10344
Age: 37
Male

Country: Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#5  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 10, 2015 2:14 pm

DarthHelmet86 wrote:No I was referring to the linked blog and to what PZ said.

It comes to the same thing, AFAIAC.
May The Voice be with you!
DavidMcC
 
Name: David McCulloch
Posts: 14913
Age: 69
Male

Country: United Kigdom
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#6  Postby igorfrankensteen » Jan 10, 2015 8:23 pm

Seems to me, there's more of semantics to this than anything else. Referring to complicated, highly variable, unpredictable occurrences with the short-hand term "luck" upsets some people. Others are okay with it. No doubt the politics of blame and avoidance of personal financial responsibilities plays a large role in this as well.
User avatar
igorfrankensteen
 
Name: michael e munson
Posts: 2114
Age: 69
Male

Country: United States
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#7  Postby halucigenia » Jan 18, 2015 11:59 am

What's that word for a system that is composed of some random elements that is fundamentally non-deterministic?
Oh yes; Stochastic.
Would that word be better to use when these people are discussing "chance" and "randomness"?
Would this cause less confusion?
I see that it is used by David Gorski in the article Is cancer due mostly to “bad luck”?
User avatar
halucigenia
 
Posts: 1232

Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#8  Postby colubridae » Jan 18, 2015 12:07 pm

igorfrankensteen wrote:Seems to me, there's more of semantics to this than anything else. Referring to complicated, highly variable, unpredictable occurrences with the short-hand term "luck" upsets some people. Others are okay with it. No doubt the politics of blame and avoidance of personal financial responsibilities plays a large role in this as well.


Hmmmm. Semantics being a confusion on an internet forum, It cannot be! Some mishtake surely?
"You can fuck the fuck off, you fucking fucker" - L. Salander
User avatar
colubridae
 
Posts: 312
Age: 72

Print view this post

Re: People have fundamental issues with chance and randomness

#9  Postby hackenslash » Jan 18, 2015 12:20 pm

I don't see the issue. I think it really stems from people thinking that 'luck' has anything to do with causation. Anything with random factors, i.e. a degree of chance, can be described as luck. When you put your chips down on the roulette table, there is a limited number of outcomes, and most of the factors can be accounted for, so there is causation all the way down the chain, but the outcome is still statistically independent, therefore random, therefore driven by chance, thus luck. Genetic mutations and specific environmental triggers are no different.

Yes, it's a semantic issue, stemming from the fact that people have no idea what the word 'luck' means.
hackenslash
 
Name: The Other Sweary One
Posts: 22910
Age: 53
Male

Country: Republic of Mancunia
Print view this post


Return to Physical Sciences & Mathematics

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest