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Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

Traffic, Congestion?

A recent article in the Miami Herald – here – surprised me. It is titled “South Florida congestion rebounding, new report says” – interesting I thought. The article seems to suggest that traffic is getting worse, citing statistics like “Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach urban area is 11th spot of a list of the country’s 15 most congested metropolitan areas.” Interesting. The article then goes on to say “the 11th spot also shows that congestion is increasing again in the area after Miami placed 15th in 2008 and 12 in 2000.” Also interesting. Now I begin thinking that this article is reminiscent of the kinds of articles I often see made fun of on more or less – a podcast which, besides from being awesome, often discussed news reporters complete misunderstanding of correlation and causation. Of course, the Miami Herald doesn’t confuse correlation and causation, instead it confuses relative change and absolute change – which is to say that the Miami Herald reporter just didn’t think hard enough about what he was writing.
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This article, if true, is enraging (hat tip, Adam S.). To fully appreciate the issue, it helps to have an understanding of the probability involved. I’ll explain by presenting two different problems that are similar to the DNA probability problems in question. (more…)

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