[NAFEX] Three strikes and you are out

kathryn stout kathrynwrites at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 1 23:57:53 EST 2003

I figure if I try something once and it doesn't work,
I want to know why--to do it differently and better
the next time. When do I give up? Not easily. The
point isn't harvesting fruit, it's learning how to
grow fruit. That philosophy sustained me for three
years of no fruit while I researched and experimented
with organic control for the plum circulio. I did
figure something out, and I do get fruit--without
pesticides. I don't give up easily.
Kathrynwrites at yahoo.com
--- Joe Hecksel <jhecksel at voyager.net> wrote:
> Three strikes and you are out
> A statistical justification for a common
> rule-of-thumb
> One of the activities that we teach our children is
> to build 
> campfires.  Building campfires are lessons in
> craftsmenship, materials, 
> luck, statistics, safety, patience and persistance.
> One of the 
> beautiful things about a campfire is that it
> provides unfiltered 
> feedback to the lighter.  It either lit or it
> fizzled.  
> Sometimes patience is learned by the parent.  My boy
> was reaching for 
> his 18th match when I felt a need to comment.  "You
> know, chances are 
> that the 18th match will not work if the first 17
> did not.  A lot of 
> people would have made some changes to the set-up
> after the third try."
> My son, who tends to be legalistic asked, "Why
> three?"
> Indeed, why three?
> Imagine you want to grow ABC berries, a new kind of
> fruit.  You have 
> been successful with many other kinds of fruit
> although you never tried 
> ABC berries.  You assume that you have a 50% or
> better chance of 
> success based on your other ventures.
> For the purposes of this essay 50% chance of success
> means that if you 
> were able to plant 1,000,000 plantings over 100
> years time, randomly 
> sprinkled over your site, that half of them would
> live long enough to 
> produce fruit.
> This is called the hypothesis.  The null hypothesis
> is that less than 
> half of them will succeed.
> So you make your first planting.  They die.  Hey,
> based on your 
> hypothesis it was a flip of the coin whether they
> would survive or 
> not.  No big deal.
> Then you make your second planting.  They die. 
> Given your hypothesis, 
> the chances of that happening are 0.5 X 0.5 or 25%. 
> Hmmmmm.
> Then you make your third planting.  They die. 
> Chances of that 
> happening are 12.5% given your hypothesis.  Playing
> fast and loose with 
> statistical terminology, you now have enough
> information to say that 
> you are about 90% certain that you do not have a
> reasonable (+50%) 
> chance of successfully growing ABC berries.
> So you stop wasting money on blueberry plants. 
> Ooops, ABC berries.
> Caveats:  
> -I still plant M&M and Skittle seeds because the
> cost is so low and the 
> potential payoff is so high.  Sometimes it makes
> economic sense to 
> exceed three strikes.  Matches are cheap if you have
> a box of 
> them.....so maybe three is not written in stone for
> lighting a fire.
> -Random rewards train people to be more persistant. 
> Suppose you have a 
> site with a great deal of variation in soil and
> exposure.  You may have 
> had many experiences where you were not successful
> until the second or 
> third (or 4th or 5th) attempt.  You *know* you can
> be successful if you 
> try enough spots.
> -Extreme uniformity trains people to be less
> persistant.  Suppose you 
> have a site that is extremely uniform.  What
> advantage is there to 
> trying out 2 other locations on the site?
> -- 
> Joe Hecksel
> Personal Webpage http://my.voyager.net/~jhecksel
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