Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Queen of Data Mining

Many years ago a weekly lottery was started in my home state, and for awhile the newspapers would print a front-page article announcing that Mr. So-and-So from Anytown had won that week's million-dollar prize. My grandmother would read those articles with her eyes wide as saucers. “Can you just imagine? Mr. So-and-So won a million dollars last night.” She said it as if some kind of miracle had taken place. I never could quite explain to her that in publishing the results after the lottery was held, the news was not quite as significant as it seemed, that only if it had been specifically predicted ahead of time that Mr. So-and-So from Anytown was going to win the lottery would the result be more akin to a miracle, and not just a meaningless certainty.

That anecdote might not seem relevant at first to autism, but it's the key to understanding Irva Hertz-Picciotto's approach to science. In fact these days, it's the key to understanding just about everyone's approach to science.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Thinking about approaches to science [whether it's biology, physics, chemistry]:

I like to see scientific things happen as they are happening in the present moment.

Then I leave and then I measure.

Changes! Dynamics! (like music).

When you read about newspaper lotteries, they have an agenda already.