The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Via the ever-interesting Daily Dish, a link to "vorjack"
It’s kind of a shame that reality is too slippery for us to quantify the amount of wrongness. Think of how useful it would be to if we had a unit of wrongness. Let’s say we had a unit – for absolutely no reason at all let’s call it a “beck” – that would allow us to express how wrong something is. “Ooh, close, but you’re wrong by 3 millibecks.” or “Whoa, off by a kilobeck.”
Of course, in our turf the right unit would be a watts. This could lead to some confusion between, say, kilowatts and kilowattses, but watt can you do?


King of the Road said...

Kilobeck? It's horrifying to think of 1,000 Becks.

Nosmo said...

The kilobeck. I like it.

But my favorite unit is still the millihelen. i.e., the amount of beauty required to launch one ship.

D.J. Andrews said...

@King of the Road.

On another blog, someone suggested that 1 beck be the maximum amount of wrongess with 0 being no wrongess. That way you wouldn't have to worry about kilobecks, and the amount of wrongness is constrained to a specific range similar to other units--e.g. the r squared-value for correlation in stats.

Keeping it at no more than 1 beck also means that once you get to 1 beck, you just can't be any more wrong (although you may be in danger of being given your own tv show on Fox). :)

King of the Road said...

@ D.J. Andrews:

I like it. That way you could reject the null hypothesis of being right at .95 beck level.