Sunday, April 21, 2002

It's a good thing Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan were not there!

I have been a fan of Megan McArdle's explanations of complicated economics ideas in simple and entertaining terms for some time now (I read her site BEFORE her Instapundit links! I found it through Patrick Ruffini's site. So I was looking forward to discussing a thought based on an insight from economics with her at the blogfest.

The thought concerned the recent plane crash into the Pirelli building in Milan. I said to a friend immediately upon hearing of the tragedy, that I thought it was extremely unlikely to have been an accident. My argument was using a concept called Bayes Theorem, which concerns conditional probability. Stated briefly and sloppily (I know Megan McArdle, and I am no Megan McArdle...), the conditional probability, given that a plane crashed into a building, that it happend to crash into the largest and most famous building in Northern Italy is extremely small. (note: yes, a plane is more likely to crash into a tall building, but there are thousands of somewhat less likely buildings.)

Little did I know when I made this argument, that almost the exact same point had already been made by James Miller on Econoblog! Note that Megan is one of the founding members of Econoblog...

Megan was kind enough not to reveal my seeming intellectual theft to the assembled bloggers. I could have become the Doris Kearns Goodwin of blogdom!