I used the non-specific words “wildly implausible” directed at commenter John here on this forum to described his speculation on various fraud scenarios in Hawaii. I actually did a calculation once on the probability that Obama was born in Kenya, given the fact that his literary agent said otherwise in a brochure of biographical information about several authors. (I came up with a generous 0.000007.)

Well that crazy Christopher “Lord” Monckton has crunched his own numbers on whether Obama’s long form birth certificate is legitimate, reports WorldNetDaily. His answer is 0.0000000000000000000016.

Monckton’s argument basically assumes probabilities for various anomalies in the long form PDF, and then multiplies them all together. Monckton obviously is not a mathematician (his college degree is in Classics) because he makes some obvious mistakes. I spotted two right off the bat: his numbers are wrong and his math is wrong.

First, unless two outcomes are independent (not correlated), you can’t simply multiply the probabilities. My article (linked above) actually shows how correlated events are properly treated. Let me give an example: what is the probability that someone is a male freemason. I’ll just make up the individual probabilities and say that the chances that someone is a man is .5 and the chance that someone is a freemason is .0001. You can’t multiply those probabilities and get .00005 because all freemasons are men (the two are correlated).

The second big mistake is to assign a probability to certain characteristics of the certificate PDF. For example, Monckton says that the chance that the registrar date stamp is in a separate clipping region is 1 in 100. This is a made up number. In fact given the hardware and software combination, the chances should be 1 or 0 for a given document since the process is algorithmic.

The big fallacy, and I don’t know a formal name for it, is to take any event that already happened and then assign a probability to it having happened. Say the winning lottery number is 1 4 6 9 18 21 22 5 7. It makes no sense to say that the odds against that number coming up were a zillion to one and conclude that the lottery must be rigged.

Monckton is fairly unfamiliar with the facts, for example, he assigns a 1 in 25 chance to the certificates being out of sequence (numbers matching birth order) in “error.” However, we know that the certificates were not in time sequence for anybody. If anything they were in alphabetic order by last name, and Obama’s number is correct. The neonatal death is the only one out of alphabetic sequence (much higher) and the birth was at a different facility. He also assigns a probability to Obama’s father’s birth date being wrong, but Obama Sr. put different birth dates on a host of government forms. We don’t know if it is wrong or not, but we do know that Obama Sr. used both dates.

Monckton’s analysis is just pseudomathematical gobbledygook, perfect for birthers.

See also:

**Update:**

When a facsimile of Obama’s birth certificate was scanned to PDF by a Xerox WorkCenter machine, the registrar’s stamp was separated into a separate clipping region. So the probability that would happen is around “1.”

the non-lord was the republicans’ only witness at a climate change hearing in 2010

GOP Chooses Non-Scientist Lord Monckton as Sole Expert Witness at Climate Change Hearing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/gop-chooses-lord-hitler-y_b_565126.html

he gets around

Well synchronicity strikes again. I have just finished one on this, too. What are the odds of that happening???

Squeeky Fromm

Girl Reporter

Anyone else find it humorous that a man who falsely uses the title “Lord”, despite not being a member of the House of Lords, has the balls to call someone else a phony?

Monckton in motion! (down at the bottom of the page).

http://inversesquare.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/send-in-the-clowns-upper-class-twit-edition/

OMG! Squeeky is really Doc C! The probability of this is definitely 1 (or 0… I forget which 😉 ).

Ok, I’ve seen this guy quoted on FauxNews and the WingNut Interwebs. But seriously, who the F#*K is “Lord Monkton”, and why the F#*K should any of us care what the F#*K he thinks?!

Technically astute, as usual, Dr. C, but I think there are yet bigger sources of error.

Even independent and correct probabilities multiplied together are not the net probability of the default hypothesis. Any particular observable outcome has a probability less than one, so it’s a one-way trip arbitrarily close to zero whether the document is authentic or not.

When we go looking for anything we can always find something. When we look in many places for the unusual, we will usually find it. See the recent ig Nobel prize winner, “Neural Correlates of Interspecies Perspective Taking in the Post-Mortem Atlantic Salmon: An Argument For Proper Multiple Comparisons Correction”. Birthers fail to apply proper multiple comparison correction around their dead fish.

Perhaps the neatest refutation is to turn the method around and use it asses the probability that Obama’s long form birth certificate is fake. What percentage of fake birth certificates are linked by the state authority that produces real ones with the description “a certified copy of his original Certificate of Live Birth”?

http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/obama.html

There are many people with the title ‘Lord’, who are not members of the House of Lords – but Monckton is at fault for claiming he is a member of that House, when he isn’t.

As I recall there is a copy of a letter to him from the authorities at the House of Lords on their website, so that people will be able to see that Monckton knows he lies…..

He talks a lot of nonsense about many things that he knows nothing of – climate change for one. Why, I don’t know. Follow the money????

If you’d like to see what a

realexpert has to say about an algorithm being used to generate the LFBC image, check out this article at John Woodman’s site:http://www.obamabirthbook.com/2012/09/genuine-world-class-computer-expert-evaluates-obamas-birth-certificate-pdf/

Well, given that we probably get our ideas from similar sources, it’s not all that remarkable.

However, there can be some really crazy arguments made that everything that happens is wildly improbable. One might quote a really tiny probability that a team of 100 monkeys with keyboards will reproduce the works of William Shakespeare in a year; however, they will produce something and that something is no more probable than anything else.

Dr. C:

I guess you are right. I was real excited for a while because I thought I discovered a new mathematical thingie. Which is if you have 2 sets of 5 cards each, and 3 cards in each set is a face card, then what are the odds you can draw 1 card from each set and get a face card???

Which is 3/5 X 3/5 = 9/25. But, if you have 10 cards and 6 of them are face cards, and you draw twice, then you should have 6/10 x 5/9 = 30/90 or 1/3. But 9/25 is MORE than 1/3, which would take 27 on bottom. Sooo I got to thinking maybe I had found all that missing stuff in the universe???

But I didn’t.

Squeeky Fromm

Girl Reporter

Squeeky,

I just think it’s good that you were excited when you thought you had discovered a

new mathematical thingy—I felt exactly the same way when I thought I had figured out how to trisect an angle in high school geometry class.> The big fallacy, and I don’t know a formal name for it, is to take any event that already happened and then assign a probability to it having happened. Say the winning lottery number is 1 4 6 9 18 21 22 5 7. It makes no sense to say that the odds against that number coming up were a zillion to one and conclude that the lottery must be rigged.

That’s basically the same fallacy as the assumption that because the chances that the initial conditions of the universe resulted in life coming to existence are so mathematically small, it cannot have happened without outside interference (“God”).

… because there is a difference between having two independent sets and having a single (self-dependent) set.

Drawing one face card from the 10 card set reduces your chances of drawing another face card (60% to 55.5…%) whereas with the 5 card sets, the chance for the second draw remains the same, regardless of what you draw from the first.

I think this can be related to the famous Monty Hall problem which is also about (the illusion of) independent choice.

Also, you might try to calculate the number of balls in the Ross-Littlewood paradox if you have an afternoon to spare. 😉

But these things remind me why I never took a statistics course when I studied math. My girlfriend at the time did, and I had a hard time understanding the stuff because I cannot switch off my intuition (and statistics is pretty often very counter-intuitive). I have no problems visualizing curves in tangent bundles over bounded manifolds, but statistics is my kryptonite.

Oh yes, please lets go off on the Monty Hall Problem.

Because the MSM (Main Street Mathematicians) have it wrong and are all complicit in a giant conspiracy to make us believe that a 50-50 choice is really a one third v two third choice after one third of the choices have been removed.

Its a conspiracy I tell you! I’m right and the MSM are all ignorant ignoramuses.

You don’t want to cross the MSM—have you ever wondered what happens when the conspiracy theorist gets it right? Bwa-ha-ha-HA-ha!

So I assume that in Birther circles, Mr. Monckton is a Certified Mathematical and Probability Expert?

Right—except that the birthers probably fawn over his made-up title in a stunning display of thoughtless hypocrisy…

This tirade by Mr. Monckton made me laugh – not because of the way he multiplied all these correlated events together (although that was good), but in the haphazard way he just assigns probabilities.

“Let’s say the odds of the stamp showing up in a separate clipping layer are 100 to 1.”

No justification, no nothing. He pulls the numbers for everything quote literally out of his ass and then concludes by arguing that the math is conclusive and straightforward.

I mean I can say “Let’s say the odds of me having breakfast today are 1000000:1.”

But I did have breakfast today…OMG it’s a million to one rarity! And EVERY DAY I hit that million to one jackpot! I’m the luckiest person alive!

Or perhaps those odds are wrong, or its an event for which probability really doesn’t apply. Nah, couldn’t be.

Makes perfect sense. In their bizarro world, everything is upside-down. They would likely hire Stephen Hawking to play on their basketball team and give the science department to Mike Tyson. No, wait, I forgot, Tyson’s black…

Psychologically, people are conditioned to know that if the host offers you money to switch, the odds are you picked the winner and he’s trying to lure you away. That’s something that probably outweighs any probability evaluations the candidates might have made.

No, PDE’s also weren’t my strongest suit, but I never had to take any exams there either. I love number theory and got my degree in differential geometry and computer science.

But, I think we could come up with some very good numbers for the probability of a US citizen living in Hawaii travelling to Kenya to give birth in 1961. There were 4.28 million births in the US in 1961. According to the State Department report that Doc posted here a while ago, there was 1 birth to a US citizen in all of East Africa in 1961 (and that was almost certainly to a mother who lived there rather than a tourist). So that places the odds of the President being born in Kenya at <1:4.28 million. Unlike Monckton's, that is a real number.

Lord Monckton is Sasah Baron Cohen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w833cAs9EN0

It kinda reminds me of Ziggy, the supercomputer from Quantum Leap, who was always calculating arbitrary probabilities of events that really had no quantitative values to calculate a probability on. “Ziggy computes that there’s a 86% chance that if you arrest this criminal, the victim’s wife will live happily ever after” and so on.

Absolutely.

I mentioned elsewhere that his improbable blunderings had cost him dearly once (see the Eternity Puzzle). His mistake there was pandering to people of greater intelligence than his (and putting his own skin in the game!). He’s wised up and moved on to much safer endeavors … namely, pandering to fools on their dime.

One of my favourite examples of miscalculating the odds in a legal context involved a murder case (don’t remember the country, I think it was England, but do they have trial by jury?) with DNA as the prime evidence.

The scientific result was that one in a billion people had the DNA sequence that was found at the crime scene (and also in the defendant).

Now the proper conclusion is that there are 7 people in the world who could have been the killer, therefore a low, but still pretty good chance that the defendant was innocent.

The DA however presented this to the jury as “there is a 1:1 billion chance that the defendant wasn’t the killer”.

(In related news, I always chuckle when people boast how their provider guarantees them a 99% yearly uptime, not realizing this means their online shop can be down for 3.5 days in a row, possibly in the middle of Christmas sales. My current employer – not a run-of-the-mill web hoster – guarantees a 97% service uptime. Clients are happy. Go figure.)

Monckton’s masturbatory “mathematics” are a better approximation of the likelihood of the birther explanation, as the facts he assigns values too are themselves unlikly birther memes.

3.6525 days … c’mon now, M, you’re spoting them nearly 4 hours! 😛

DNA evidence becomes more and more problematic when there are more and more people in DNA databases. What does a one in a million match mean when there are 10 million DNA results in the database? If you’re thinking of the same case in England that I am, the defendant whose DNA matched with a high probability, was the victim Parkinson’s disease that confined him to a wheel chair, but it was alleged that he committed a crime that required him to climb up a wall and enter a second-story window despite the fact he lived 200 miles away and had an alibi. He was not convicted.

Not sure, just that one statistical fallacy remained in memory.

if he were a mathematician he would have realized what interesting

properties Eternity had for algorithmic examination and teaching.

It turned out to be a really interesting task for programmers and

(nondeliberately) well in the small window of solvable-but not too easy.

(not the ~10^25 years needed to solve E2)

Monckton should have (co)written an article in some scientific

journal about it. But all he was interested in was how to make it attractive

for hand-solvers and to get good publicity in the newspapers.

none of the mathbots noticed the calculation error that WND even put

into the headline ?

Monckton is going to speak at Southeastern Louisiana University about another subject he knows nothing about-climate change! http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/09/25/southeastern-louisiana-university-has-honor-hosting-climate-denial-activist-lord-monckton

Monckton is the biggest fraud of them all. Which is what is so ironic about birthers loving him.

Just look at his Eternity Puzzle and what happened with that: http://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-news/top-stories/aristocrat-admits-tale-of-lost-home-was-stunt-to-boost-puzzle-sales-1-679237

He does publicity stunts … you know.. lies…