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Re: [Phys-L] einstein --> misattribution in general --> appeal to authority in general

On 07/21/2014 12:29 PM, Bill Norwood wrote:
- Oops, but Einstein could have had special insight into insanity.
- His son was mentally ill and was cared for in England, and Albert
Einstein rarely or never visited. Am I getting this right?

1) Anybody with any insight into mental illness would know that
repetition is not the same as perseveration, stereotypy, or

Even if it were the same, or even close, it would be at most
a symptom, not even a particularly common symptom, certainly
not the /definition/ of mental illness.

2) Anybody with any insight into physics or probability would
know that repeated sampling of the same probability distribution,
in hopes of finding a low-probability high-payoff event, is not
the least bit insane. In fact a great deal of good research
fits in this category.

This is not restricted to laboratory science. Virtually all
of the minerals industry depends on finding a vein that is
many, many, many standard deviations richer than the "average"
distribution. Prospecting and wildcatting are risky, but not

A good scientist -- or prospector -- is an expert at managing

There is an extensive literature on fat tails, et cetera --
going back to the earliest days of probability theory (1656).
The idea of a "black swan" event goes back more than 2000 years.