The pre-quiz

Admission to the course will be based on your response to this quiz. If you don't enjoy these questions, then you won't enjoy the course!. If you wish you may also write a paragraph about why you want to take this course, and whether there is any particular topic X for which you would like to do a ``Probability and X" project.


You should do exactly 2 of the 4 questions. This is not math: there are no "correct" answers. Your answer does not need to be very long, but it should convince me that you have really thought about the question. When finished, email your answers to me at with "STAT 157 pre-quiz" subject line.

I suggest spending around 2 hours on each question, but you can spend less or more time. In any case, tell me in the email how much time you did spend on each question.

You may (and should) use any resources you can find to help you, except other people -- you can't ask someone else for help.

For best outcome do the quiz very soon.

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1. Go to Nate Silver's "538" Blog site, find a recent article (with quantitative content) with which you disagree (in part, at least) and explain why you disagree.

2. I am participating in something called the Good Judgment Project in which you are asked to assess the probability (as of today) of specified geopolitical events happening before a specified deadline. For instance
a. Will Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump host the other for an official bilateral visit before 1 October 2017?
b. Before 1 October 2017, will the FDA approve the sale of a gene-therapy treatment for inherited diseases?
c. Will China officially declare an air-defense identification zone (ADIZ) over any part of the South China Sea before 1 December 2017?
d. Before 1 January 2018, will the European Commission find Google liable in an antitrust case?
Of course you are not supposed to just guess an answer -- rather, you are supposed to search for relevant news and analysis by other people, and then (like a juror in a trial) assess this evidence to make your judgment.
Question: choose one of (a,b,c,d), state your probability for the event, and explain (by giving links to online sources) what sources of evidence you relied on to make your judgment.

3. Read one of the following articles, and write a review, in the style of a book review. (These aren't actually books, because a book would take you too long to read).
50 years of Data Science by David Donoho.
To Explain or to Predict? by Galit Shmueli.
Euthanizing the Value of a Statistical Life by Trudy Ann Cameron.
Helping Doctors and Patients Make Sense of Health Statistics by Gerd Gigerenzer et al.
Why are gambling markets organised so differently from financial markets? by Steven D. Levitt.
The psychology and philosophy of luck by D. Pritchard and M. Smith.

4. If you had access to all of Google's data, what is the most intellectually interesting thing you could do with it? For this question, assume you have superb coding and statistical skills. But it has to be something you could do in 3 months without help from others.