Coping: The “How to Score WoWW” Problem

(Payson, AZ)   Although we are something like 1,200 miles from home this morning, there’s no shortage in the World of Woo-Wood (WoWW) on our present trip. 

But, as you’d expect from something as delicate and elusive as woo-woo, just how much is debatable.

Last Monday, for example, I told you about my “weird dream” about the airplane that made some kind of emergency landing because of a brake / hydraulic issues. 

I was saddened with the report of the Malaysian jetliner disappearance, but that wasn’t my dream.  No, this was definitely a dream about a passenger jet with 146 (roughly) people on board.

The event that mostly closely fit was the weekend emergency landing of a Japan Air Lines Boeing Dreamliner at Honolulu after a hydraulic warning light went one in flight eight hours out of Japan.

The plane didn’t have any issues landing, except that it was made with one engine out, which means the thrust-reversers would not be used, so a braking landing would have been in play – which would have meant a longer landing than normal.

But the number of passengers was about right, landing long (due to single engine) would have been a fit, but the icy runway (slipping) in my dream wasn’t there.  This took place in Honolulu, after all.

And this gets me to the first ponder of the week:  How do you score something like that?

Those who’ve been  reading this column long enough (or, is that too long?)  will remember that I had a dream prior to Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster.  Again, there were some aspects of the disaster that were right (rig, fire, offshore, and the “Wall”.  But in my dream, there had also been a murder, or two, and the rig disaster was somehow covering that up.

As far as I know, there was nothing like that going on, so how would you score that?  And then the timing: Posting all this 18-hours before a disaster posting a semi-lucid dream with elements? 

Another weird note:  The airplane braking dream didn’t seem  particularly urgent to post.  But the oil platform fire dream…that one was a “stop the presses” kind of feeling.

This is precisely the kind of problem that has dogged the field of parapsychology since the get-go.  The study of the phenomena isn’t particularly difficult.  But the statistical back-up – OMG, now we’re talking real grownup number crunching.

Fortunately, not all cases are as complicated as me trying to pencil out the odds of strange dreams coming true based on one to n number of “correct” elements.

And example of the “WoWW in your Face” comes from reader Bill:

Aho George,

On a recent trip to California I found a small stone with a perfect hole in while walking along the beach. Being an old hippie, when I got home I looped a leather cord through the hole and then back through itself, tied it and put it around my neck.

I live at a hot spring and yesterday morning sitting out in my tub I felt something slide down the front of me. I reached up and found the leather cord whole and secure, so I figured the stone must’ve broken. When I picked it up it too was whole and fine. I had worn it the whole day before and through the night.

There is no way that the stone could have come off the cord.

I looped it back through and put it around my neck.. it hangs there still as a I write. Now that was some piece of WuJu WuJu.

Enjoy your journey,

Idaho Bill

So the thong wasn’t untied and the rock was solid…you tell me: how does that happen?

Statistics might offer that all the electrons in the rock (or thong) could have just all lined up one particular way for an instant.  But, logic says that kind of thinking would  explain a lot of mysterious deaths, too.  They’d be of the sort where all the molecules happen to be on the other side of the room for a  minute, or three…But it doesn’t make it into those CSI shows, so it must not be (objectively) real enough…or is it?

Like any B-school grad, I’ve suffered a good bit of statistics, but they’ve been of the sort to answer practical business questions.  “What are the odds we can get enough consulting money from client X to break even in Q2” kind of thing.

While it would seem like the judicious application of multivariate approaches would work reliably, it often does not.  That’s because there’s not a “one best way” in multivariate (multi-factor) statistics and the answers drift.  Pick the MANOVA approach over the MANCOVA or the CCA and you can get varying answers.

And to make matters worse, many approaches to multi-factor statistics just move the observer bias around.  At some level, the weights of factors comes into play (or not) and this selection and weighting process can predetermine any answer you want.  How you pose the question drives the answer.

Near as I can figure, the existence of a universal, one-size fits all, approach to parapsychology doesn’t exist.  Even if it did, the peer-review process, which is hopelessly broken and designed to reinforce groupthink, would poke holes in everything because we can’t just have a one-size fits all because that’s what academics roll in.

Lacking that, the best I’ve be able to come up with is a personal gut check.

For me, the plane landing dream of last Monday was not a perfect hit.  But they don’t happen all the time, so this one went into the :”My, that is interesting…” folder.

The Gulf of Mexico dream…that was a “Wow!  Amazing….where are the murders?”

But the best reports like the one from Bill this morning are the kinds where you just rock back and mutter “No shit?”

There’s a scale there. And it slides all the way from “OK, what’s ’s your point?” all the way over to “Amazing…mind-warping…”

If you have any better way of scoring this stuff, send along ideas. 

Life en Casino

I love gambling stories since besides holding forth that as we go through Life “Everything’s a Business Model” there is this one other core belief.

Everything is a Gamble.

Take marriage, for example.

And to make the point, let me borrow a statistic at random from a state of Michigan website so we don’t walk over personal copyrights.


You see the data over to the right (on most browsers but maybe not phones)?

It suggests that the divorce rate in the US peaked at around 10.6-10.7 per 100,k000 population in about 1980.  But here lately,

Here lately (2012) the rate was down to about about 8 per 100,0-00 of population.

I know that people often complain that there’s never any good news on the web, but here’s one that makes really good sense:  The odds that come with getting married have actually improved.

But the point I was making isn’t that narrow.  It’s the bigger picture view that EVERYHTHING is a gamble. 

The reason insurance companies exists is because the operate exactly like a casino.  A bunch of money comes in, they have payout tables, and whatever is left is used to buy up things like commercial real estate.  Just like what?  Casinos, of course!

Now watch closely for what happens next, however.  The owners of the insurance casino don’t know what to do with all that money they make, so they run out and look for another casino.

And as luck would have it, they invest in a casino named the “Commercial Real Estate Casino.”

Here is where the insurance casino is making really crazy bets, because who knows if we will even need commercial office space in 10 years (*or further) out? 

Yeah…heresy.  I get that. But 200 years back in history, I would defy you to find any building over 50-stories, lol.  Demand changes over time, right?

And no, the gambling story doesn’t stop here.  The Insurance Industry – Casino analogy goes further when the insurance industry invests in re-insurance which is like a casino investing in insurance just in case someone wins more that they have.

See how this works?  Everything is a gamble in life.  Love, marriage, real estate, insurance, everywhere I look I see someone laying odds.

Vaccination for the kids?  It’s a gamble.

Apply for a new job?  Another spin.

Cheat on taxes?  Worst bet in the house, so ya’ll have fun with that one.

Cheat on spouse?  Exactly as bad as cheating on taxes in ultimate potential costs.

Buy a new car?  It’s a gamble with many angles to it including style, resale value, mileage, and that someone in Boeing Ghost Works isn’t sitting on mass transporter technology that would obviate the need for wheels.  (You talk about a long shot with a huge impact and payoff!!)

Offs of a small rat taking up residence in our old car’s air conditioning system?  Until last week that was a long shot.  Now it’s just a $460 bill.

But enough.  How about a happy gambling story?  From my TV engineer buddy Hank out in Hawaii comes this tale.  It helps to know that the NAB he talks about is the National Association of Broadcasters…

Years ago while attending the NAB convention in Las Vegas with my station manager, I found a ‘hot’ dollar machine in the lobby of our hotel.  I allocated $100/day for ‘entertainment’ and that went mostly to that one machine.  Play until you are well ahead, and then walk away.  I would give the machine hours of ‘down time’ to recharge while I went to the convention, or dinner, or whatever.  But every time I walked thru the lobby I sat down and played if it had been many hours gone by.

I was consistently pulling $100-$200 gains out of that machine, and walking away.  It was confounding my boss when I would show up with another handful of money.  By the end of the week, I was up over $900 on the trip.  Bought my S.O. a fire opal birthstone ring with that money.

And that gets me to the first point of this week: 

In order to win, you need to make bets in Life.  Intelligent bets, but bets nevertheless.

If you don’t lay down some fresh ones, you can’t ever win. 

I read a statistic someplace that the average millionaire (back when it meant something) had gone broke 2.7 times before making it big.

Unfortunately,. this doesn’t mean you need to try only three times.  Some people are going to get that million on the first pass.  But others are never going to win.  The house will beat some people to death.

Seeing as it’s Monday, what better time to go out and lay on a few Big Ones?

That’s exactly what I plan on after breakfast this morning.  I have my “Hank/NAB machine” and another $20 bet last night resulted in a $120.05 payout.

It’s not a million bucks, to be sure.  But I am on vacation is my excuse;  and I’m sticking to it.

Write when you break even (or run into some WoWW stuff…)