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Monday, January 09, 2012

Rank these possibilities by probability

Readers- I want you to answer this question and post your answers as comments. I will tell you WHY I am asking tommorow.

Susan is 28 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice and also participated in anti-nuke demonstrations.

Please rank the following possibilities by their probability. List them LOW to HIGH. (Just post your answers. Other comments I may block so that others can enjoy the question.)

  1. a kindergarden teacher
  2. works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
  3. an active feminist
  4. a psychiatric social worker
  5. a member of the Sierra club
  6. a bank teller
  7. an insurance salesperson
  8. a bank teller and an active feminist

33 comments:

  1. There is no question in the post...

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOW

    an insurance salesperson
    a bank teller
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a kindergarden teacher
    a member of the Sierra club
    an active feminist
    a psychiatric social worker

    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  3. Near-zero probability (ascending)
    1,4,7,8,6

    Nonzero probability (ascending)
    2,5,3

    ReplyDelete
  4. an insurance salesperson
    a kindergarden teacher
    a bank teller
    a member of the Sierra club
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    an active feminist
    a psychiatric social worker
    a bank teller and an active feminist

    ReplyDelete
  5. 1,2,8,3,4,7,5,6

    ReplyDelete
  6. 3, 5; (then the rest are much less likely) 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Can you please make the post clear. What are these possibilities for?
    Is it about "She will marry a person who is"
    1)
    2)

    ReplyDelete
  8. ``There is no question in this post.''

    I asked the readers to rank a list. I thought that
    was a question, though it may depend on how you define `question' .

    ReplyDelete
  9. `Can you please make the post clear...'

    I mean the probabilities that SHE is
    a kindergarden teacher, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  10. LOW
    A bank teller and an active feminist
    A bank teller
    Works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    A kindergarden teacher
    A member of the Sierra club
    A psychiatric social worker
    An active feminist
    An insurance salesperson
    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's clear that Anonymous at 9:18am is trolling, saying that women will marry and not work.

    My ranking:

    low

    an insurance salesperson
    a member of the Sierra club
    a kindergarden teacher
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    an active feminist
    a bank teller
    a psychiatric social worker
    a bank teller and an active feminist

    high

    Perhaps this is a trick question and Susan is actually a PhD in computer science. (Yes, I know at least one philosophy major who is now an assistant professor of computer science.)

    ReplyDelete
  12. a bank teller and an active feminist
    an active feminist
    a member of the Sierra club
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a psychiatric social worker
    a bank teller
    an insurance salesperson
    a kindergarden teacher

    (Drago)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Susan does not have a PhD or a Masters or a Bachelors in Comp Sci or math. Don't try to outthink the question.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Low
    - an insurance salesperson
    - a bank teller
    - a kindergarden teacher
    - a psychiatric social worker
    - a bank teller and an active feminist
    - works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    - a member of the Sierra club
    - an active feminist
    High

    There is a mixture between vocation and beliefs embedded that make it a little hard to balance nicely. I assumed the lack of information was relevant, and that the order of the description was important.

    Just a guess :-)

    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
  15. my list, now with estimates:

    2-3 orders of magniture smaller than the top choice below:

    a bank teller and an active feminist

    1-2 orders of magnitude smaller than the top choice below:

    an active feminist
    a member of the Sierra club

    1 order of magnitude smaller than the top choice below:

    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes

    slightly less likely than the top choice below:

    a psychiatric social worker
    a bank teller
    an insurance salesperson

    top choice (on the order of 1-2%)

    a kindergarden teacher

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. a kindergarden teacher
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    an active feminist
    a bank teller
    an insurance salesperson
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    a member of the Sierra club
    a psychiatric social worker

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sorry people, my prognosis is more pessimistic:

    a member of the Sierra club
    an active feminist
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a kindergarden teacher
    a bank teller
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    an insurance salesperson
    a psychiatric social worker

    ReplyDelete
  19. HIGH
    a kindergarden teacher
    a psychiatric social worker
    a bank teller
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a member of the Sierra club
    an insurance salesperson
    an active feminist
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    LOW

    I think there is almost no correlation between Susan's believes while studying and a job she lands. So tried to sort it assuming her competence and likelihood of jobs and convictions.

    ReplyDelete
  20. LOW

    a bank teller
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    an insurance salesperson
    a kindergarten teacher
    a psychiatric social worker
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a member of the Sierra club
    an active feminist

    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'll take a stab at a subset, the job she has. While its possible to get a teaching certificate or a psych degree, you don't mention anything beyond the philosophy degree (though it seems that anyone majoring in philosophy is going to have a vocation NOT in philosophy WHP); so low to high:

    psychiatric social worker
    kindergarten teacher
    an insurance salesperson
    bank teller
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes

    The top three don't require any degrees so I ranked them more likely. Unfortunately, you placed two seemingly independent events (vocation and personal interests) into one choice, but I'll ignore it for now.

    Independently considering the rest, low to high:

    bank teller and active feminist
    an active feminist
    a Sierra Club member

    The conventional wisdom might say that banking and feminism may be incompatible, but we're only talking about a teller position, not a CEO or someone in a position to cause real harm. Sierra Club membership is "easy": donate a few bucks and you're a member; you did not say "active" member so I assume that since its "easy" it has a higher probability.

    ReplyDelete
  22. LOW
    a kindergarten teacher
    an insurance salesperson
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a member of the Sierra club
    a bank teller
    a psychiatric social worker
    an active feminist
    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  23. LOW

    dentist
    presidential candidate
    basketball player
    pediatrician
    journalist
    mechanical engineer
    senator
    tennis player

    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  24. LOW

    7. an insurance salesperson
    1. a kindergarden teacher
    4. a psychiatric social worker
    6. a bank teller
    8. a bank teller and an active feminist
    2. works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    3,5. an active feminist, a member of the Sierra club

    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  25. high to low
    8 1 2 4 3 6 5 7

    ReplyDelete
  26. LOW

    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a bank teller and an active feminist

    a psychiatric social worker
    a kindergarden teacher
    a bank teller
    an insurance salesperson

    a member of the Sierra club

    an active feminist

    HIGH

    ReplyDelete
  27. Lo<7<6<8<1<2<4<5<3<Hi

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't understand the question ?
    rank answer choices by probability ? but wat is the question ?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Low

    an active feminist
    a member of the Sierra club
    a psychiatric social worker
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    an insurance salesperson
    a bank teller
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a kindergarden teacher

    High

    ReplyDelete
  30. With the ranking period now almost done, let's see if we can guess why GASARCH regards this question as being interesting.

    My own guess is that GASARCH is interested in how humans rank probabilities in comparison to how WATSON ranks probabilities.

    In particular, we have the following mathematically rigorous ordering constraint:

    LOWER PROBABILITY
    (8) bank teller and feminist
    (having strictly lower probability than each of)
    (3) bank teller
    (6) feminist
    HIGHER PROBABILITY

    But that is not how humans think -- humans instinctively aggregate probabilities into narratives. That is why some of the guesses on this post have illogically ranked (8) as having higher probability than (6) and/or (3).

    My guess as to the point of GASARCH's post is simply this: IBM's Watson ranks probabilities illogically too, and thus (in effect) incorporates some kind of human-type narrative synthesis algorithm. And moreover (my guess is that) this illogical-ranking algorithm has turned out to be essential to Watson's overall answer-guessing capacity.

    The common-sense point being, that future generations of Watson will need a narrative-construction skill if it is ever to function effectively in providing medical diagnostic services. Perhaps for IBM, the surprising lesson of the Jeopardy challenge has been that probability-ranking algorithms are wholly inadequate to the task of constructing explanatory narratives.

    ReplyDelete
  31. For some reason, this reminds me of a question that Bill G. once posed me:

    Bill: There are 30 faculty in our dept. What is the probability that some two of them share a birthday?

    Me: Umm...65%?

    Bill: No, it's probability 1 since there are two faculty in our dept. who share a birthday.

    ReplyDelete
  32. My preliminary guess was that close to half of the respondents would mark "bank teller and active feminist" as more probable than either of "bank teller" or "active feminist" alone. This would be consistent with previous research in cognitive biases.

    ReplyDelete
  33. LOW
    works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes
    a bank teller and an active feminist
    a kindergarten teacher
    a psychiatric social worker
    an insurance salesperson
    a bank teller
    a member of the Sierra club
    an active feminist
    HIGH

    ReplyDelete