Friday, July 10, 2009

Selection Bias and Economic Booms

Selection bias is defined as "a distortion of evidence or data that arises from the way that the data are collected."  In colloquial terms, it's also called, "Counting the hits and ignoring the misses."  For example, if I give a large number of heart patients an experimental drug, then count the patients who improved, and ignore the ones who don't, I can report a high success rate that isn't reflective of reality.

CNN Senior Producer Elise Zeiger demonstrated a tendency toward selection bias this week when reporting that Korean car manufacturer Kia plans to open a new automobile factory in tiny West Point, Georgia at the end of the year.  West Point, which was rapidly becoming a ghost town due to economic hardship, was understandably excited about the announcement which already has spurred economic growth and optimism among the town's residents.  Zeiger leaves open the possibility that higher forces are at work:

Or perhaps a little divine intervention deserves credit, as a West Point sign pointed out: "Thank You Jesus For Bringing Kia to Our Town."

Perhaps Jesus did manipulate the free will of Kia management to select West Point--despite assurances that God would never influence the free will of humans in order to prove his existence.  If so, then this would be a firm confirmation that God exists and that he has specially chosen the residents of West Point for divine protection.  But then again, many other towns all around the country are still under threat, and were not chosen for this special privilege.  If so, then this would be an example of counting a hit, and ignoring countless misses.

1 comment:

atimetorend said...

God won't reveal himself to people with concrete evidence because that would take their free will away, and then they couldn't love him for real. But God answers prayers, which reveals himself. And that is why Paul can say that those who don't believe are only those who willingly suppress their knowledge of God. So God has revealed himself. But he won't because that would take their free will away, and then they wouldn't be able to really love him...

Yeah, Christians want to have it both ways. Calvinists can seem harsh and convoluted in their thinking, but they may have a point that their perspective is more logically consistent with the bible.