Friday, July 31, 2009

Misc updates...

The April 16th, 2008 blog entry, Truth or ?, looked at the DOD's deployment of a hand-held “lie detector” for battlefield use in Afghanistan, the PCASS, or Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System. One of the issues raised was the base rate fallacy problem... This problem , counter-intuitive to most, is an important hurdle that screening technologies would have to somehow overcome... A recent article, A scanner to detect terrorists,points out the problem of the base rate fallacy. (Note" my base rate fallacy article also briefly looked at the false acceptance rate, the false rejection rate, and the crossover error rate, see diagram above)

The June 14th, 2008 blog entry, Swimming "downhill", looked at the Speedo LZR. At that time the swimsuit, just introduced in February 2008, was the 'ne plus ultra' of swimsuits, and folks were predicting a) that a number of world records would continue to be set/assisted by swimmers using the LZR, and, b) the other manufacturers would have to go back to the drawing board...

Fast forward to July 2009, and both these predictions have come true. FINA finally decided to ban some of the newer, more advanced suits, effective April 2010. At a recent meet Phelps was beaten in the 200 meter freestyle by German Paul Biedermann. Biedermann was wearing one of those (to be banned) suits, a 100 percent polyurethane swimsuit made by the company Arena. Phelps, possibly due to contract obligations, was still using last year's wondersuit, the LZR Racer from Speedo.Phelp's coach, Bob Bowman, threatened to withdraw Phelps from all international competition unless the suits were banned immediately. Apparently he is upset that things are getting out of hand, and that the technology is diminishing the value of world records! Curiously, he was not concerned on these counts this time last year, when his swimmer was one of those that were advantaged. What a wanker!

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