Readers' Guide

This blog is not specifically about maximum-entropy inference. If you came here looking exclusively for such material, skip ahead to this list of the material I do have on that topic.

My first post on Maximum Entropy explains something about my choice of title for this blog. Based on the content of several of the articles here, I could have called it 'The Base-Rate Fallacy,' instead, but that that would have been to focus on something negative. Also, looking at the photo I used for my profile, I wondered if I should name the blog 'Inordinately Fond of Grasshoppers,' in honour of a hilarious summary of a putative creator, given by J.B.S. Haldane.

Also on that first post, I hint at a major part of my motivation for writing all this: my strongly held belief that probability and statistics are generally not taught to a satisfactory level, and are not given an appropriate level of respect by society in general. That stats is not taught properly is supported by the fact that almost everything I write about here has been self taught, despite having completed  three degrees in science, in three different countries.

That stats is not well respected by society at large - well just look around you.

Another important part of my motivation is to put my ideas to the test. I can tell you it really sharpens the mind when you decide to publish about something technical, and have people scrutinize what you have written, often looking closely for flaws. On occasions, I write things that many people with greater expertise than I have will disagree with strongly, and I must be prepared to defend what I have written. 

For people to respond to my writing and say that I am wrong, however, is part of what I want. I want to understand people's objections, see if they overturn my previously held position, or see if my ideas hold in spite of them. Similarly, I'm delighted if somebody comes forward to say 'I don't understand.' Some of the content is quite technical, but I want it to be accessible, and feedback like this can help me formulate ideas in ways that are easier to comprehend and accept.

In short, comments are welcome. Please, please post your comments. Negative, supportive, whatever. If you like, I want to hear. If you don't like, let me know. If you disagree, don't understand, think there is a better way to explain, or spot a typo, formatting problems, or  a suspect equation, then speak up for goodness sake. I want people to search their hardest for errors - peer review is one of the things that makes science great!

So far, there are no ground rules for comments, anything goes. Except spam, of course. You are free to promote your own published material if it is relevant, but irrelevant links informing people how to purchase pharmaceuticals etc. will be frowned upon. I reserve the right to delete anything that seriously annoys me (honestly, not a lot does).

Everybody is enabled to comment, and you may do so anonymously if you wish. All you need to do is copy in the wobbly words so the computer knows you are a real human. (Once, when commenting on another site, on an article about free will, I was asked "Please prove that you are not a robot" - rather the opposite of the point I was trying to make!)

I deny all responsibility for comments other than my own.

You can also contact me personally. My email address can be found on my blogger profile, and my Linked In profile can also be used as a communication channel. Both are linked to on the right hand side of the page.

I try to maintain a high editorial standard, but for me, grammar rules are for eliminating ambiguity and have no other purpose. I am, therefore, happy to casually split infinitives, and I frankly couldn't give a shit that a preposition is deemed to be not the correct thing to end a sentence with.

Feel free to quote what I have written, link to it, use ideas you find here, but please let everybody know where you heard it first.

If you like the content of this blog, there are various ways to subscribe, probably most easy is to type your email address in the little box provided under 'Follow by email', and you'll hopefully be alerted whenever something new comes up. Also, the blogs listed in the 'Stuff I Like' section are well worth looking at.

To get the most out of this blog, bare in mind that three supporting resources have been put together. All can be reached via the links list on the right hand side of the page. The first two were announced here.  One is my glossary of technical terms. If there is a term used that seems important, but you aren't quite confident what it means, you might want to check there. Some technical terms may be used slightly differently here, than by other authors - I also try to make such things evident in the glossary. This glossary, by the way, constitutes the most definitive statement of my philosophy.

The second, a mathematical resource, makes crafty use of the mathematical material in the glossary. It is a list of links to glossary entries and blog articles, describing in simple terms and in a logical order the basic mathematics of probability. No prior mathematical ability is assumed. If you find the blog interesting, but find the technical aspects difficult to follow, then let this resource be your entry point.

A third resource, a moral science index, gives a summary of and links to all the material on the blog that's closely related to the topic of ethics. Most people do not consider ethics to be a matter of scientific inquiry, but as I prove in several places, morality comes entirely within the scope of science, and is, by definition, an important topic.  

Here are the links to my short series on the maximum entropy principle: 

Entropy of Kangaroos
Entropy Games
Monkeys and Multiplicity
The Acid Test of Indifference

And here is the glossary entry

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