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How That 'Extra .9%' Could Ward Off a Zombie Apocalypse

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the protect-ya-neck dept.

Math 204

netbuzz writes "The questioner on Quora asks: 'When is the difference between 99% accuracy and 99.9% accuracy very important?' And the most popular answer provided cites an example familiar to all of you: service level agreements. However, the most entertaining reply comes from a computer science and mathematics student at the University of Texas, Alex Suchman. Here's his answer: 'When it can stop a Zombie Apocalypse.'"

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news for nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355175)

Stupid shit? That's how it goes, right?

That's not the question (1, Offtopic)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355183)

The question isn't how to ward off the zombie apocalypse. The question is how could a zombie apocalypse realistically happen at all. Any explanation is a huge stretch.

Re:That's not the question (2, Interesting)

Sussurros (2457406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355203)

A zombie apocalypse happened in Britain and was shown in a BBC documentary by Derren Brown.

Re:That's not the question (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355367)

por supuesto

Re:That's not the question (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355401)

A zombie apocalypse happened in Britain and was shown in a BBC documentary by Derren Brown.

I don't even know where to start pointing out what's wrong with that sentence.

Re:That's not the question (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355511)

Start by looking at yourself in a mirror. Maybe you'll see something whooshing over your head.

Re:That's not the question (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356071)

A zombie apocalypse happened in Britain and was shown in a BBC documentary by Derren Brown.

I don't even know where to start pointing out what's wrong with that sentence.

.. i do.. it was channel 4 for s start

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355207)

Well aren't you the genius.

Re:That's not the question (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355357)

Well aren't you the genius.

The only difference between genius and insanity is that all the voices get along.

Re:That's not the question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355627)

There's also this space in between called stupid, and it's filled by a lot of people like this guy. They tend to think they occupy the latter extreme as they take pride in correcting others' mistakes, but in the majority of cases there is no mistake, they just create it by pretending to not understand something that was assumed to be understood, and then feel all clever.

They're being prideful of their ignorance--but it's even worse than that, because they aren't truly ignorant or stupid, they do it on purpose because they want to feel good about themselves and it's the only way they know how. Yeah, I'm feeling like being an ass today, but we all know it's true because if you're on this page you've read at least 5 slashdot comments before.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356129)

That's a bit like saying that functional software can only be achieved by adjusting all the bugs until they cancel each other out.

It's possible for somebody to be a genius by means of some abnormality. You can develop an amazing talent in one area and become a genius in that field by having a balance thrown off somewhere in your brain, and as a consequence you are lacking in some other attribute. That's a possible route to genius.

It's not the only type of genius. Seriously. It's possible to just be very smart, without anything else being wrong. I'm sure most people can think of at least a few examples. Some people have an amazing talent for comprehension and understanding, not just in their specialist field, but throughout their entire life, and it shows in most things they do.

Re:That's not the question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355209)

There are parasites which take over a host and can cause it to do things, such as kill itself. It's not far fetched to think a parasite could cause it's host to go after the non-infected so that it may spread itself.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355319)

That's called the American Way.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355351)

That's called the American labor union.

FTFY

Re:That's not the question (2)

rioki (1328185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355525)

For example rabies. Sure the the infected are not "undead" but the world in 28 days later was not a fun place to be.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355225)

Any explanation is a huge stretch.

Bath salts are a huge stretch?

Re:That's not the question (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355495)

No Bath Salts are what happened to John McAfee i.e. going nuts and paranoid perhaps to the point of shooting your neighbor. Any connection to consuming shitty stimulants and actual flesh eating was and remains wild and unproven speculation.

Re:That's not the question (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356081)

No Bath Salts are what happened to John McAfee i.e. going nuts and paranoid perhaps to the point of shooting your neighbor. Any connection to consuming shitty stimulants and actual flesh eating was and remains wild and unproven speculation.

McAfee was into bath salts?.. i am pretty sure that with his budget and location at the time you suggest he could get better than bath salts pretty canned cheap................. you have any proof he was into bath salts or proof he shot his neighbour? any connection between what YOU have claimed and actual facts remain wild and unproven speculation... wouldn't you say???

Re:That's not the question (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356519)

No, bath salts are what likely caused the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_cannibal [wikipedia.org] attack last year (truly, one of those classic "only in Miami" incidents that horrify the world, and leave Dade County residents convinced that we live in an ever-so-slightly fucked up parallel universe where normal sanity doesn't necessarily apply.

The fact that John McAfee ended up in Miami is just a coincidence. Now, had McAfee's neighbor face been *eaten*...

Re:That's not the question (1)

Azure Flash (2440904) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355323)

Let's not research this too much shall we?

Re:That's not the question (0)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355581)

The question isn't how to ward off the zombie apocalypse. The question is how could a zombie apocalypse realistically happen at all. Any explanation is a huge stretch.

Nope. Off of the top of my head I can come up with a few:

Viral hallucinogenic infection: causes humans to bite one another and pass it on. Long incubation period (10 days) causes mass infection before anyone realises whats happening.

Biological weapon gone wrong: causes humans to bite one another and pass it on.

Mutated bacteria in water supply: Causes humans to hallucinate, go feral and (you guessed it) bite one another and pass it on.

And that's just off of the top of my head - gimme a few days to think about it and I'll have a scarily realistic scenario. Of course, I've already written a short story about Zombies, and thus have already thought about it somewhat.

Re:That's not the question (3, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355681)

Just because people bite other people doesn't make them zombies. If they're not undead, they're not zombies.

You can't write a story about a world where some weird virus makes people want to bite each other's necks and drink their blood and say it's about vampires. It's about a weird virus that makes people want to bite each other's necks and drink their blood.

Re:That's not the question (4, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355689)

Yeah, because if you don't follow Vampire Canon, the vampire FBI will hunt you down and turn you.

Re:That's not the question (5, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355917)

I wish such an agency existed. Then we wouldn't have that sparkling bullshit.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356203)

My kingdom for mod points...

Re:That's not the question (1)

glaurungn (1253152) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356459)

undoing bad mod

Re:That's not the question (2)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355761)

Just because people bite other people doesn't make them zombies. If they're not undead, they're not zombies.

You can't write a story about a world where some weird virus makes people want to bite each other's necks and drink their blood and say it's about vampires. It's about a weird virus that makes people want to bite each other's necks and drink their blood.

So, basically, whether or not they behave like zombies is irrelevant, they have to be literally be killed and then reanimated? Leaving aside the levitating goalposts, I can still work with that (off of the top of my head) in a plot involving a defib or similar. Human bodies are remarkably easy to bring back to life as long as certain constraints are adhered to ... for example the countdown time limit before reanimation. So .. the viral infection -> hallucinations part of symptoms -> host infects others via biting -> symptoms only show themselves after heart stops -> heart restarted.

No more goalpost moving - that's a realistic plot; adding constraints like "if they are reanimated then they are still not undead", or "The heart must stop and stay that way" is goal-post moving.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355693)

Might be possible to have a virus that made humans extra horny and go around kissing people (and thus spreading the virus).

Re:That's not the question (4, Informative)

deimtee (762122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356065)

It's not a virus, it's a parasitic protozoan that is common in cats.
It's called toxoplasmosis gondii and it makes men violent and women horny.
Rats also get it, and it makes them attracted to the smell of cat piss.

Re:That's not the question (3, Interesting)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355729)

Ok they sound plausible. However in all such cases, the zombie apocalypse would be very short lived - the infected humans simply wouldn't be able to survive very long.

There's a reason rabies didn't result in a rabies apocalypse...

Re:That's not the question (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355767)

Ok they sound plausible. However in all such cases, the zombie apocalypse would be very short lived - the infected humans simply wouldn't be able to survive very long.

There's a reason rabies didn't result in a rabies apocalypse...

Not a problem - increase incubation period to five years, make the change gradual over that time, make the blood infected (hence transmittable by sex or biting, etc) ... people who are bitten won't admit to it, they gradually get more aggressive over a five year period, transmitting the infection via either sex or biting.

Re:That's not the question (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355589)

It can happen when we sell shiny plastic idevices to plastic ipeople and they spend all their time looking at them, thinking about them, buying new ones, comparing them, and ignoring the real world.

the zombie apocalypse has already started. we're just in generation one. People already can't go a single day without playing with their idevices. Most of them have forgotten how to drive. To walk. To talk to each other without pressing buttons and repeating one line memes and taglines.

Now imagine the children of the children today. they will be incapable of interacting with each other in the real world and will wander about like mindless drones.

they won't be looking for brains tho. or maybe they will. their own sure won't be doing much at all. and their state will be infectious.

It's only a matter of time until those not infected decide to start shooting to save themselves.

That's not the question either (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355607)

It's probably of deep significance for cultural anthropologists where this zombie meme came from, but I'm actually sick&tired of the whole thing. Zombies == instant unfunny guarantee.

Re:That's not the question either (5, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355687)

It's probably of deep significance for cultural anthropologists where this zombie meme came from, but I'm actually sick&tired of the whole thing. Zombies == instant unfunny guarantee.

What's worrying is not so much that there's a stupid meme, but that people can even begin to try to rationalise it and behave as though it could actually happen.

Personally, I just think it's feeding the insane "survivalist" mentality that is spreading like a virus through the US. Oh, wait...

Re:That's not the question either (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356219)

"Zombie" preparation is really just arming up against tough human opponents (what sort of humans can't be reliably brought down with a shot to the chest?) while keeping things light hearted and not all ruby ridge. Then the internet autists got ahold of it and took the zombie part seriously

Re:That's not the question (2)

91degrees (207121) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355691)

Zombie apocalypse is just the writer being cute. This applies to any potential pandemic.

Re:That's not the question (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356401)

Or any disease at all. What he's really pointed out is that you need to have an extremely specific test before you can even consider using it for screening. The textbook example is mammography.

Re:That's not the question (-1, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355829)

The question isn't how to ward off the zombie apocalypse. The question is how could a zombie apocalypse realistically happen at all. Any explanation is a huge stretch.

The truth is that the military military training exercises against zombies [defensenews.com] are a politically correct way of practising for the time that Muslims rise against civilisation. We know that they plan to do this because their leaders say so [unitedstatesaction.com] , and the effect will be people indistinguishable in a crowd rising up and violently attacking others. The "Zombie" scenario gives them the chance to try strategies that will minimise innocent casualties while taking care of the Muslims. Of course in this PC world, though all top level strategists know what the Muslim leaders are saying and planning, it has to be presented as "defence against Zombies".

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355831)

in the author'z hypothesis, its airborne

Re:That's not the question (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356375)

If you want to be boring replace "test for zombification" with "mammogram for breast cancer."

Both are examples of why we have so few screening tests. That's why full body CT is detrimental when used as a screening test.

Statistics 101 (4, Interesting)

blackicye (760472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355193)

An example we were given in my Intro to Stats module once upon a time used the Space Shuttle Program.

The numbers following the decimal point are very important when it might mean the difference between a Space Shuttle failing catastrophically instead of leaving / returning through the atmosphere intact.

And the vast differences in manufacturing costs between a 99.9%, 99.99% and 99.999% fault tolerant component and why
it would be necessary in the bigger picture of the complete system.

Re:Statistics 101 (3, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355217)

I read once that one of the most important things to come out of the entire Apollo program was the concept of 'zero defect manufacturing', which until then had only been possible in small custom workshops.

Re:Statistics 101 (2)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355359)

Unfortunately 'zero defect manufacturing' was quickly negated by 'rubber stamp testing' and 'austeric quality manufacture'

Re:Statistics 101 (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355545)

Which meshed perfectly with the epidemic of management 9 envy. Er, Um, SURE, the stapler is five nines, six sigma, ISO 9000, and CORBA compliant.

Re:Statistics 101 (3, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355241)

Yes, but the other key item is the incidence of "false positives" and "false negatives". Both of these incidences are very dependent upon the penetration of the disease in the general population in the first place. See the concept of sensitivity and specificity [wikipedia.org] for more details.
.
But the summary is a test that is 99% accurate (for both true positives and true negatives) with the zombie incidence rate shown would have :
the possibility that a positive test result being a true positive of only 1/6 = 16.66%

whereas a test that is 99.9% accurate would have

the possibility that a positive test result being a true positive of only 2/3 = 66.66%

for the incidence of Zombies (Mad Human disease) given in that student's example.

Re:Statistics 101 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355719)

Yeah, but if you say "zombie" then it's suddenly fun and interesting.

Re:Statistics 101 (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355697)

Actually, the Challenger disaster hinged on a different failure in statistics. Originally the SRB segments were mated with 2 O-rings. Inspection of the SRBs after launch revealed the O-rings were failing at a higher than expected rate. So to mitigate the risk they redesigned the system and... added a 3rd O-ring. The reasoning was that if a single O-ring had a (say) 1% chance of failure, then two would have a .01^2 = .01% chance of failure, and three would have a .01^3 = .0001% chance of failure.

Unfortunately, that reasoning only works when the failures are independent events. If a single event (like cold weather) can cause the failure of one O-ring, it can also cause the failure of the other O-rings, so that failure mode is not independent. And your chance of all three O-rings failing is closer to 1% instead of 0.0001%.

Same thing happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant. They had something like a dozen diesel generators under the theory that even if a few failed to start, it was highly unlikely that all would fail to start. They completely missed the possibility that a single common event could cause all the generators to fail the same way.

Re:Statistics 101 (2)

stiggle (649614) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356157)

Which is why you'd make the O-rings out of different compounds, and install no set with all the same type.
Locate the diesel generators in 2 or 3 power houses around the site.
2+ server rooms on site with replication between them (with additional replication off-site).

But how much resource do you throw at the problem? Its easy for us after the events to decide if NASA should have used O-rings of differing compounds or Fukashima have multiple power houses on different levels.

Re:Statistics 101 (4, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356487)

Which is why you'd make the O-rings out of different compounds, and install no set with all the same type.

Which still doesn't eliminate dependent failures, because the failure of one O-ring increases the stress on the next O-ring (particularly the burst of pressure as the first O-ring fails).

Locate the diesel generators in 2 or 3 power houses around the site.

Which doesn't eliminate dependent failures when the failures are due to a contaminated fuel delivery.

2+ server rooms on site with replication between them (with additional replication off-site).

Which doesn't eliminate dependent failures when the failures are due to common software running on all sites.

But how much resource do you throw at the problem? Its easy for us after the events to decide if NASA should have used O-rings of differing compounds or Fukashima have multiple power houses on different levels.

For that you could call me in. Working that out what I do for a living.

Re:Statistics 101 (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356259)

Actually, the Challenger disaster hinged on a different failure in statistics.

Yes, the specification sheet for the O-Rings stated that they would fail in those conditions 100% of the time...

You've got cancer! (5, Funny)

complete loony (663508) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355235)

A better answer; False positive medical tests.

Re:You've got cancer! (2)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355721)

Actually, that's pretty much the context that the zombie plague answer is given in.

Re:You've got cancer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355771)

You've been on WebMD about that cough again, haven't you?

Re:You've got cancer! (2)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356231)

Spot on. I once spent some time (fruitlessly) trying to explain to a guy that a cheap test for HIV that has a false positive rate of 5% will be useful in sub-Saharan Africa (where the occurrence of HIV is around 10-20% of the population), but that very same test is useless in Scandinavia (where it will almost always report a false positive).

An even better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355237)

Forget about a zombie apocalypse. How about trying to stop the goddam commie apocalypse. You brain dead fuckers are everywhere now.

Re:An even better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355265)

Too late trying to stop us now. The brown Islamo-commies have already taken over the White House. So, get out the lube, end over and spread your cheeks, Jed. The Cuban brigade is coming for you.

Re:An even better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355327)

It's high time one of you progressive lefty fucktards actually admitted it. Everyone still believes terrorism is the biggest threat to homeland security.

Re:An even better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355377)

You're not talking to a "progressive lefty fucktard", my friend, but to their lead officer with the shadow KGB. Believe me, our puppet in the White House is the smallest of your problems. To me, the destruction of America is a personal crusade.

Signed: Yevgeny Stepanovich Gorsky.

Re:An even better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355439)

Your "puppet in the White House" is none other than the anti-Christ. You American traitors will have your fun finishing destroying America. But then B. Hussein Obama will be a big problem to even you duped, stupid schlubs.

Re:An even better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355619)

Trolls trolling trolls trolling trolls trolling trolls...

I look forward to the day that the Universe Simulator prunes such as you from its computational domain.

Re:An even better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356155)

We are all atheists, comrade, we don't believe in your Christian bullshit. Once America is gone, the whole Christiandom will be gone. Except the Orthodox branch in Soviet Russia, where it helps us keep the population in control.

Morgan Freeman reading my obituary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355243)

Well, the US military must have invented the eternal youth elixir as a side-effect of the Extermination day program.

Re:Morgan Freeman reading my obituary? (2)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355531)

Morgan Freeman will outlive us all.
God is immortal you know.

Shame on you Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355291)

Don't link to a blogspam site that rips off the entire original article's content - link to the original site.

Re:Shame on you Slashdot (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355297)

Don't link to a blogspam site that rips off the entire original article's content - link to the original site.

Think of it as a tribute to Roland.

Re:Shame on you Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355949)

Don't link to a blogspam site that rips off the entire original article's content - link to the original site.

Think of it as a tribute to Roland.

Roland Roland Roland
Keep those posts Roland
Rawhide

Just Let It Die (2)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355339)

This zombie fad is getting worn out. Just stop it, stop referencing it, stop producing zombie-related media, just STOP.

Re:Just Let It Die (5, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355441)

Just Let It Die

I'm trying, but it just keeps coming back!

This zombie fad is getting worn out. Just stop it, stop referencing it, stop producing zombie-related media, just STOP.

Alternatively, you could stop trying to be the arbiter of what is good and worthy and just indulge in the media you do enjoy. I'm very sorry* if you feel marginalised by those who have an interest in all things undead and shambling, but no-one's actually forcing to watch The Walking Dead or Jersey Shore.

*I'm not really

Re:Just Let It Die (2)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355477)

But people are liking things that I don't like!

Re:Just Let It Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355957)

Just Let It Die

I'm trying, but it just keeps coming back!

This zombie fad is getting worn out. Just stop it, stop referencing it, stop producing zombie-related media, just STOP.

Alternatively, you could stop trying to be the arbiter of what is good and worthy and just indulge in the media you do enjoy. I'm very sorry* if you feel marginalised by those who have an interest in all things undead and shambling, but no-one's actually forcing to watch The Walking Dead or Jersey Shore.

*I'm not really

Fron Smalltown New Jersey : The Walking Shore.

Re:Just Let It Die (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356435)

...you could stop trying to be the arbiter of what is good and worthy and just indulge in the media you do enjoy.

I can take that attitude towards media but the GP has a point. It's spread past mere "media".

Offhand example - Many makers of firearms and accessories have taken up the whole "zombie marketing" angle. One manufacturer took a normal-priced line of cartridges, changed the packaging to something featuring drippy fonts and garish green and red colors, re-named the line "ZombieMax", and seriously jacked up the price. The stuff immediately started flying off the shelves. (And this was way before Newtown.)

The power of marketing gimmicks is sometimes a serious blow to my faith in the reasoning skills of my fellow humans.

Re:Just Let It Die (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355541)

But but but, I want to dehumanize my neighbors to the point where I can treat them to shotgun blasts without feeling guilt.

I think we should all.. (1)

maroberts (15852) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355591)

go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.

This zombie fad is getting worn out. Just stop it, stop referencing it, stop producing zombie-related media, just STOP.

Re:Just Let It Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355947)

Sorry, but only a zombie apocalypse actually happening can make it go away.

Re:Just Let It Die (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356025)

Just Let It Die

How? It's already dead.

Re:Just Let It Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356535)

Just Let It Die

How? It's already undead.

FTFY!

Re:Just Let It Die (2, Funny)

TimHunter (174406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356321)

Congratulations! You just won the Slashdot Sourpuss Prize. The award used to be a b.j. from the supermodel of your choice, but we realized you'd just think of something to gripe about it so we quit giving it out. Enjoy your fame.

Invalid reasoning. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355397)

1. 1 in 500 infection rate was not included in the initial premise or anywhere in the article itself, but used in calculations in footnotes.
2. Decision, to administer or not to administer the cure in the case of zombie apocalypse was determined by an arbitrary criterion by an author. In reality, it would matter if the author calculated the possible outcome of detection and administering cure at maximum available rate, vs. spread of infection at its (supposedly proportional to the density of zombies) rate.
3. Zombie apocalypse is not a realistic scenario. A zombie apocalypse with disease spreading through the air is not even known fictional scenario.

This is how you DON'T WRITE THINGS, be they fictional, or non-fictional, and it's certainly how you don't write things that involve math.

Re:Invalid reasoning. (1)

rioki (1328185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355563)

The epidemic has become so widespread that population experts estimate one in every five hundred humans has been zombified.

Reading comprehension is not one of your strong points?

not even known fictional scenario

Although not technically zombies, in "I am Ledgend" (movie and book) the infection spreads by air.

Can't refute point 2. But I think the epidemiology here is somewhat more complicated in all other cases. Can enough cure be produced to counter the spread? Can enough tests be produced? You you have enough bullets? What about Madagascar?

Re:Invalid reasoning. (2)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355573)

"A zombie apocalypse with disease spreading through the air is not even known fictional scenario."

Isn't that how it works on The Walking Dead? Given that you turn into a zombie on that show if you die even if you were never bitten? That's the implication I took away from it - that it was an airborne disease that simply infects you and then turns you when you die.

hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355521)

Isn't anyone getting bored of the whole "Zombie Apocalypse" thing? (You know, where something is funny because it references "Zombie Apocalypse"?).

Anyway, zombie apocalypse!!

Promotion? (1)

Zemran (3101) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355617)

Is this supposed to get us interested in Quora? If so, it failed. If this is an example of the level of intellectual masturbation on Quora now I will continue to stay away from that boring site.

Re:Promotion? (1)

naroom (1560139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355667)

If this is an example of the level of intellectual masturbation on Quora now I will continue to stay away from that boring site.

As opposed to Slashdot, where we discuss posts about blogs about Quora answers. Much more interesting..

Poor judgement in TFA (2)

GauteL (29207) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355629)

"You can't justify subjecting 5 people to the negative effects of the cure in order to save one zombie, so your discovery is completely useless."

No. You would administer it and risk killing many healthy humans, because the alternative is certain annihilation of the human race.

The premise of the story is fine though. Although my zombie analogy would be the difference between a 99% chance of no zombie outbreak in a year vs. a 99.9% chance. The former would mean a 37% chance of a zombie free century. The latter would mean a 37% chance of a zombie free millennium.

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355835)

How does 99% over 100 years work out to only 63%? Either I've completely forgotten statistics, or your math is screwy somewhere.

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (1)

Too Much Noise (755847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356075)

How does 99% over 100 years work out to only 63%?

P(no zombies in 100 years) = p(no zombies in year 1)* ... * p(no zombies in year 100)
= p(no zombies per year)^100 = 0.99^100 = 0.36603... or about 36.6%

similar for the second case, 0.999^1000 = 0.36769... or about 36.8%

I suppose the better illustration of probabilities would be:
99% for a zombie-free year = 36.6% for a zombie-free century
99.9% for a zombie-free year = 90.5% for a zombie-free century
99.99% for a zombie-free year = 99% for a zombie-free century

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355839)

how about running the test twice or more ?

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356527)

You've just made the third most popular statistical error. Multiple measurements on an individual are almost certainly not independent. That is, if the test gives a false positive the first time, it's much more likely to give a false positive the second time.

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (1)

Kvasio (127200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356067)

is anyone outside USA (and not exposed to horror movies) really worried about zombie apocalypse? Really?!

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (2)

Too Much Noise (755847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356101)

Even poorer judgment, in fact, as his probability calculation relies on an actual rate of infection of 1 in 500. For such a highly contagious disease the rate of infection will grow (well, duh!) So if 1 in 500 gives about 83% false positives, when the infection rate reaches 1 in 50 the false positive chance drops to 33% and for 1 in 5 to 4%.

So indeed 99% is quite good for a high contagion rate, not so good for low contagion and useless for something that's exceedingly rare (for a disease that affects only one person in 10000 a test that has a 99% detection rate will have 99% false positives)

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (1)

Too Much Noise (755847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356177)

... and of course this uses his assumption for the chance of false positives, which is basically ... wrong. Quite embarrassing for a math student, since instead of stating it as an independent variable (as he should have) he assumes that

P(test positive | not infected) = 1 - P(test positive | infected)

where in fact the right hand side is P(test negative | infected), quite a different thing from the left hand side.

If otoh your zombie test has 0 false positives, that .9% will be irrelevant as anyone flagged positive by the test is in fact infected so you'll not be administering the cure to healthy people.

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (1)

Kelerei (2619511) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356237)

Even poorer judgment, in fact, as his probability calculation relies on an actual rate of infection of 1 in 500. For such a highly contagious disease the rate of infection will grow (well, duh!) So if 1 in 500 gives about 83% false positives, when the infection rate reaches 1 in 50 the false positive chance drops to 33% and for 1 in 5 to 4%.

That said, one could argue that then the infection rate reaches those levels, it would be too late for the cure.

In fact, it may be able to prove (or disprove) this with the equations of motion that we learned back in elementary physics (here's a refresher [wikipedia.org] if you've forgotten them). Substitute velocity with rate of infection, acceleration with how the rate of infection grows, and displacement with number of people infected (obviously, time stays as is), and you'd have a pretty decent starting point. Now, we just need to get Randall Munroe on this.

(Disclaimer: the "too late for cure" statement above obviously excludes Will Smith. [imdb.com] )

Re:Poor judgement in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356105)

I think a bigger flaw is: The article fails to consider the change in infection rate. Suppose you refuse to administer the cure when there is a 83% chance of false positive. As the pandemic spreads, more and more people are infected and the infection rate goes up. When 1 in 50 people is infected (2%), the false positive rate becomes 33% and the drug becomes feasible.

it's what remains that counts (1)

Kvasio (127200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43355703)

putting it on completely different subject: if a filter stops 99% of pollutant, you get 10x pollutant unfiltered when compared to the filter with 99.9% efficiency and 100x than with filter of 99.99% efficiency.

Is Slashdot Run by 12 Year Olds Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355705)

Seriously. This garbage is NOT what brought people here. It IS what will drive people away!

We are (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43355851)

the zombie apocalypse

The maths don't work - prior not static (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356011)

Wait a minute....this doesn't follow! As more and more people become infected the priors change, and applying the test becomes rational!

Furthermore, unless there is P(death) = 1 from the cure, then taking the cure is still preferable to waiting a few weeks for the inevitable end, especially if it has ongoing immunitative effects on at the actual zombie (you can't be infected twice).

Brains (3, Funny)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year and a half ago | (#43356149)

I was with him until he said one of the perks of being the plague-stopping hero was having your biopic narrarated by Morgan Freeman, when I'd obviously much rather have Zombie Morgan Freeman doing the VoiceOver.

"Brains. My, my, my, some sweet delicious brains would be mighty fine indeed. Brains."

You know you just read that with Morgan Freeman's voice in your head.

uh... 99 vs 99.9 seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356229)

if you were going to discuss 99.99 vs 99.999 maybe there'd be something interesting here, but the difference between 99 and 99.9 is significant. Didn't you ever see the Matrix movies?

why is everyone sitting so gingerly on the thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43356243)

Is it because the joints are made of wax and subject to breakage unless you are a skinny person who doesn't plop down?

Who buys a chair that is only used eight times and self destructs?

I suppose this might work in Germany in a sex shop. I have heard that some people enjoy hot wax on their body parts. Then you would only have a 1 in 8 chance of catching something at the most.

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