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Saturday, January 28, 2012

A lifetime membership: starting in 2039!

To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the American Statistical Association, the ASA has a “reverse time capsule” project. Members answer questions forecasting what various aspects of the world will be like in 2039.

The entrants are all professional statisticians willing to pay membership fees, so it’s an elite group. What’s the prize? “When the reverse time capsule is opened in 2039, members with the best guesses will be rewarded with a lifetime membership in the ASA.”

Not much incentive for me.  In 2039, I will be 89 years old, if I’m still alive.  While I hope to be mentally active at that time, I’m probably not going to be working as a professional statistician. Even if I am, the plausible length of a lifetime membership beginning at age 89 is very short.

What would be interesting would be to do this in reverse: everyone who enters gets a lifetime membership in the ASA starting now.  When the time capsule is opened in 2039, those who didn’t win would have to pay up.

More typo irritation

I’m often irritated by simple typos by people who should know better but aren’t paying attention.  One of those occurs here.  After you give your answer, you can see the answers given so far. But for one question there is a mismatch between the question and the graph of the answers that makes the graph completely ambiguous.


So what is the meaning of the 0-9 bar? Does this mean 0-9% of new automobiles will use only alternative fuels, or does it mean 0-9% will be gas-powered  vehicles?  Those are opposites, but both answers are reasonable. We can see that either answer is reasonable by noting that the bar for 0-9 is about the same height as the bar for 90-100.