Wednesday, July 13, 2011

After-Dinner Talks to Die For

We all know that things aren't always what they appear to be. The same is true of people. A well known experiment from 1970 provides an interesting and entertaining illustration of this.

In the web-only content of the latest issue of Significance magazine (co-published by The American Statistical Association and The Royal Statistical Society), Mikhael Simkin summarizes the story of this experiment. What's new about his piece is that it gives us a link to a video  of the fake lecture that formed the basis of the experiment at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

The video is worth watching, especially if you have even the slightest knowledge of game theory! I won't say more - just see for yourselves.

I used to make myself available, through my university's speakers' bureau, to give talks to to outside groups and organizations. Lions Clubs; the Sons of Norway; Chartered Accountants Supporting Whales and Dolphins; the South Nanaimo Spinning, Weaving and Knitting Guild; and so on. The trouble was that when I was invited to talk on (my then interest) "The Underground Economy in Canada", all they really wanted to know about was how they could get involved in the fun, preferably without being caught. (Especially the Spinners and Weavers!)

However, maybe it's time to get on the speakers' circuit again. But not for free. After all, you get what you pay for - right?

I'll bet there's a good market out there for after-dinner talks on topics such as:
  • "What Every Dental Surgeon Should Know About Unit Roots"
  • "Recent Developments in Cointegration Analysis for Recent Immigrants"
  • "Monte Carlo Simulation in the Post-Impressionist Art Movement" 
  • "Saddlepoint Approximations for Horse-Lovers"
  • "Spatial Econometrics for Realtors"
And if you think I'm kidding, I should point out that in my bookshelf I have a copy of nice book titled Statistics for Ornithologists. It was a gift some years ago from my friend, Ken White, developer of the SHAZAM econometrics package. If that doesn't offer some possibilities, I don't know what does.

So, if you belong to a club/group/society that's looking for that different, memorable, talk - you know where to find me!

© 2011, David E. Giles