Chris Uggen's Blog: statistical probability and trust

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

statistical probability and trust

we've added a new back-page column in contexts titled one thing i know, in which sociologists nail down a fundamental lesson or insight from a career of research. npr's morning edition provides a similar but less social-sciencey forum, titled this i believe.

astronaut and fellow usjlper dan tani offers a characteristically optimistic worldview in sunday's essay, based on, well, his view of the world. you can get a pretty good sense of his perspective, since dan also shares a few of his fine photos with npr.

It's not that I think that everything will work out OK; it's that I think that everything will probably work out OK... We climb aboard extremely complex machines which hurl us into space, and we have to trust that every engineer, every technician and every manager has done their job, and that we have a high statistical probability of success.

after more than three months aboard the international space station, dan and the atlantis crew touched down safely in florida at 8:07 this morning. welcome home, dude.


At 9:56 AM, Blogger kristina b said...

You know, I heard that "This I believe," and not only did it just tickle the future sociologist in me, but it was also just plain awesome.

Very cool post. Thanks for letting us know that he's back!

At 4:19 PM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

thanks, kristina. i don't know dan all that well, but i can say that the npr piece nicely captures his voice: a mix of cool engineering geekspeak and warm humanism.


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