On Spotting Terrorists

December 31, 2009

The foiled underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, raises anew the question of how to spot a terrorist. Clear hindsight obscures how hard a task this is. After the 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., the German authorities analyzed data for some 8 million potential terrorists living in Germany by a variety of categories and whittled that list down to 1689 individuals, each of whom they hauled in for an interview. Not one turned out to be a threat, according to the social scientists Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog in a New Scientist comment.

Gambetta and Hertog mention this and other failed attempts to find good classifiers for profiling terrorist by way of arguing that engineers are three to four times as likely as other graduates to be affiliated with Islamic terrorist groups since 1970. Perhaps, they argue, university subjects provide a key to better classifiers.

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SIPTA Workshop on Uncertainty at Columbia University following the Synthese Conference

December 24, 2009

SIPTA Workshop on Uncertainty

The Society for Imprecise Probabilities: Theories and Applications will hold a Workshop on Uncertainty at Columbia University on April 17th of 2010, following the Synthese Conference on epistemology and economics that will take place at Columbia University on April 15th and 16th.  We expect the workshop to feature a mixture of invited and contributed talks on the use of imprecise probabilities in models of inference and decision making under uncertainty.

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The 2010 Synthese Conference: announcement and call for papers

December 6, 2009

On April 15th and 16th of 2010, the Synthese Conference will take place at Columbia University.  The 2010 edition of the Synthese Conference will focus on the theme of epistemology and economics.   Recent years have seen an increasing amount of interaction between epistemology and economics: traditional topics in epistemology, such as the analysis of knowledge, have found a significant role in the study of interactive decision making, while traditional topics in economics, such as the analysis of rationality, now figure prominently into certain areas of epistemology.  The conference program will feature the following invited speakers: Read the rest of this entry »

Final CFP: Formal Epistemology Workshop (FEW 2010)

December 5, 2009

Konstanz, September 2-4, 2010

Organized by Franz Huber (Konstanz) and Branden Fitelson (UC Berkeley)

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Foundations of the decision sciences: Synthese special issue

December 3, 2009

The first part of a special issue on the foundations of the decision sciences is now available in the Springer Site for the journal.  It contains articles by Jonathan Baron;  Luc Bovens and Wlodek Rabinowicz;  Itzhak Gilboa, Offer Liberman and David Schmeidler; Isaac Levi, Patrick Maher, Nils-Eric Sahlin, Annika Wallin and Johannes Persson; Dov Samet,Teddy Seidenfeld, Mark J. Schervish and Joseph B. Kadane; Simon M. Huttegger, Brian Skyrms, Rory Smead and Kevin J. S. Zollman; and Horacio Arlo-Costa and Jeff Helzner.  Jeff and I edited the issue and wrote an introduction.

This is the first part of two projected issues.  The second part contains articles by Cristina Bichieri, Gerd Gigerenzer, Andrew Postlewaite and David Schmeidler; Alan Hajek and Michael Smithson; Stephan Hartmann and Jan Sprenger; Ralph Hertwig, Christian List, Ned McClennen, Aldo Rustichini, Wolfgang Spohn, Jim Joyce, Peter Hammond, and Paul Weirich.

The collections offer a balanced view of foundational work carried out by philosophers or researchers working in various branches of the decision sciences (from traditional game and decision theory and behavioral economics to psychology and neuro-economics).

We are still in the process of editing  the second part.  Hopefully it could be available at the beginning of the summer.



December 2, 2009

A nice discussion over at Junk Charts about the “Climategate” scandal, which boils down to a self-inflicted wound from speaking too loosely about scaling time series data.


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