Weekend Diversion: I get busted; I confess!

"You lost your way

I tried to find it for you

A brighter day to clear your name

The thing is where you are and

Where you're going is the same" -Storyhill

Those of you who've been listening to the songs I post each weekend may remember this week's band, Storyhill. (They have a new album out, BTW.) Here's a great song of theirs for you to listen to,

Give Up The Ghost.
And this weekend, I do give it up. A recent XKCD comic accuses physicists of being incredibly annoying in the following fashion:


Well, I never...

Oh, wait. The most famous bit of work I've ever done here at Starts With A Bang was, in fact, exactly inspired by that thought process.

You're trying to predict the behavior of the Men's 100m World Record? Just model it as an asymptotically decreasing function, and then add some secondary terms to account for the scatter since improvements in timing were implemented.

Totally busted. And yet, I know I'll do it again in the exact same way next time, and piss off another entire field, just like I likely did with the exercise physiologists. We all have to live with our flaws, and now you all know one of mine!

Have a great weekend anyway, and I'll see you all next week!

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Confession is good for the soul scientific career.

That's the problem with a 'mechanismless' model (curve fit). It neglects numerous factors including training technology, increase in coaching skills and (perhaps most importantly)the fact that human abilities fall on a(n approximately normal) distribution, such that the occasional "abnormal" (= "off the charts") individual will skrew (=skew + screw) the "typical" trend. (Refer to "the mule" in Asimov's Foundation series.) As an Aside, I notice that the last "few" points in the graph seem to point more 'downward' than the general trend: selection for abnormals?

"Totally busted. And yet, I know I'll do it again in the exact same way next time, and piss off another entire field.." Nice.

The harder trick is to bust out of the blinkers of your own field; by persistently questioning foundation assumptions and by considering original embryonic ideas.

By AngelGabriel (not verified) on 01 Oct 2010 #permalink

How can people determine when we will get a full moon? I think how people would find this out would be from a calendar that would tell you when the next full moon would be?

Does anyone think that the latest sixth planet could possibly have like or water on it?

Im talking about the one orbiting Gliese 581. Does anyone think that the latest sixth planet could possibly have life or water on it?