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Ian McKellen (2) vs. Ellen DeGeneres; Pierre-Simon Laplace advances

The arguments yesterday in favor of Laplace were valid, earnest, and boring. Dalton reinforced the contrast with this comment:

Belushi’s demons are a whole lot more interesting than Laplace’s demon. With the latter, you always know what you’re gonna get forever and ever evermore. The former offers heaps of exciting uncertainty, and if you remember the night, you’ll have a hell of story.

Then I read this comment from J Storrs Hall:

I fear that Laplace would be overly relaxed. Belushi, on the other hand, would be on a mission from God. With a full tank of gas. At midnight. Wearing sunglasses.

And he might even bring a penguin.

Compelling. But I don’t want a penguin in my seminar. A piranha or a kangaroo, sure, those have statistical relevance. But a penguin, no way. So Laplace, the first and greatest applied Bayesian statistician, goes to round 2.

Zbicyclist puts it well:

A man who had no need for God, and a man on a mission from God.

When our pastor was taking a statistics course as part of his MBA, I tried to explain how statistical models of human behavior were less of a violation of the notion of free will than the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent God was. I’d like to hear Laplace’s answer to this one, even if it’s just to sniff at the question.

Today we must choose between two charming show-business figures: Ian McKellen, seeded #2 in the “People whose names end in f” category, versus Ellen DeGeneres, an unseeded TV personality. You can’t go wrong with either one. All I’ve got for you is that Gandalf has a track record of saving people who are about to get eaten by trolls—I’ve been reading The Hobbit and happen to be right in the middle of that scene—and we do sometimes have trolls around here.

Any other thoughts?

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!

16 Comments

  1. Not Trampis says:

    McKellen is a fina actor. A very good actor does not a speaker make. He may or may not be.
    At this stage I fail to see what positive qualities Degeneres has.

    This is a strange contest. I may well be Pved statistically speaking.

    • Dzhaughn says:

      Mainly, that woman’s tag has a lot of a most common typographical symbol in it, which would amount to a big difficulty back in days of non-digital signs on halls of drama and crowd-laughing.

      Should that fact boost or cut a probability appraisal of said woman writing an amazing book such as “A Void” (aka “La Disparition” in Gallic printings?) I cannot say, A or B. (If you don’t know what’s up, visit Amazon.com to find that book’s author’s autograph and a blurb on said book. You will understand why its local omission is mandatory.)

      That I should, so soon as now, so miss that most familiar symbol. But I do! Would you not? I should strongly disavow prodigalilty with it!

  2. Ethan Bolker says:

    When’s the last time you had literal fireworks at a seminar? Gandalf if McKellan would come in character.

  3. zbicyclist says:

    Let’s get up out of our chairs and dance! And maybe play stupid games! Ellen!

    • Anonymous says:

      Quote from above: “Let’s get up out of our chairs and dance! And maybe play stupid games! Ellen!”

      This reminded me of someone who critized Jimmy Fallon’s version of the “Tonight Show” and accused him of turning it into a childrens party (because he often plays stupid games with his guests).

      I thought that was a good remark.

      I have stopped watching these types of talk shows, and the longer i have stopped watching them, the stranger the whole “talk show” concept has become for me. It’s like a small group of “celebrities” are on some sort of rotating schedule to appear every so often, and promote their latest “thing”, and try and be entertaining for 5 minutes.

      I always imagined when i would be a “celebrity”, i would randomly pick an audiance member and have them sit on my spot and have them be interviewed by the host, and myself. I would ask questions like “what’s the best experience you ever had?”, and “what lesson did you learn from your mother?” and “what lesson did you learn from your father?”, etc. and mix them up with what the host would ask them.

      That would be my “thing” that i would do in every talkshow i would go to.

      • Anonymous says:

        Quote form above: “I always imagined when i would be a “celebrity”, i would randomly pick an audiance member and have them sit on my spot and have them be interviewed by the host, and myself. I would ask questions like “what’s the best experience you ever had?”, and “what lesson did you learn from your mother?” and “what lesson did you learn from your father?”, etc. and mix them up with what the host would ask them.”

        Perhaps that could even be an idea for a whole new “talk show”!

        I reason it could lead to entertaining interviews and situations, and sometimes totally weird, and uncomfortable situations (which would therefore also be interesting in a way).

        You would perhaps see a “different side” of the celebrity, and you would perhaps put some stuff into perspective, and you would get to know some (possibly important) stuff about a random stranger in 5 minutes.

        I think the “celebrities” could even possibly enjoy that more in some way or form compared to trying to be entertaining and promoting their stuff like they are usually doing in the “regular” talk-show format.

        Does anybody know some hotshot folks in Hollywood to pitch this idea to :P (i could use a new career-option since i have found out academia is not suited for me)

    • gec says:

      Indeed, I often wish there were dance breaks at conferences if only because it would stop people from tapping away at their laptops instead of listening to the speakers!

      Plus, game-of-games vs. show-of-shows? (Though not till the finals, if at all.)

      Also, let’s be clear that, given his category of origin, we are getting Gandalf NOT Sir Ian. And, frankly, Gandalf is pretty unreliable. He only shows up when he feels like it and has a wicked temper. Of course, if he remembered some pipe-weed, maybe that would balance out.

      But I suppose the best argument for Gandalf is that we could hear him say, “You shall not pass!” to any vanquished speaker.

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