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Miracles and probability: the adventures of a maths nerd

May 2nd, 2013

Bayes Theorem

I am a bit of a maths nerd – I enjoy using spreadsheets and graphs to analyse and illustrate. But I can’t claim much expertise – I did once obtain a Distinction in Statistics at Uni, but I’ve forgotten all of that now.

So while writing up some material on healing miracles (see Healing miracles around the world and Healing miracles and God) it occurred to me that miracles were a subject just asking to be looked at statistically. But it certainly wasn’t easy.

If you’re not a maths nerd, I suggest you read the summary only, which I’ve thoughtfully placed at the top.

Continue reading →

Enjoy your spam!

February 23rd, 2012

Spam is ubiquitous on the internet. Offer an email address or a comment box and a spambot will attempt to make use of it. If you can’t beat them, at least find some humour!

Recent spam comments on this blog (which don’t make it through) have been on behalf of a bewildering variety of commercial interests, including: beanbag chairs, laptop batteries, a pizza store, lawn mower reviews (yes!), search engine optimisation and money-lenders. Does any of this produce a result for them???

Lately, I’m finding the comments they post are more sophisticated, as they try to sound like a genuine comment. But sometimes the artificial intelligence goes awry. My favourite was a comment on my post on Peter Singer and infanticide:

I want to talk about this page with my children.

I’m sure they felt comforted!

Enjoy your spam!!!

December 14th, 2011

One of the occupational hazards of blogging is spam comments. You’d expect them to be from the usual sleazy suspects, but more often they’re from small businesses selling laptop batteries, obscure medicinals, and search engine optimisation, etc, hoping they’ll get a link from my site to theirs. Many have a very generic comment praising the quality of my prose and my scintillating ideas – generally in something less than good prose themselves. This one (from ‘Army Knowledge Online’, whatever that is) was such a masterpiece that I thought it deserved to be saved for posterity:

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