For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
LaBarrister
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For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:17 am

Okay. So I can speak from the heart, because i know everybody followed the thread title, and that you reading must have been an engineer or engineering student at one point. Of course!

So let me share this with you. I go to the law school at my state's flagship (where I attend undergrad) all the time for forums, volunteering, etc. I find that a lot of liberal arts majors who are successful in law school often sound dumb to me. Even some of the professors sometimes sound like they are just completely talking out of their ass half of the time.

I wonder, is there a lot of BS that comes from a lawyer without a hard science or engineering background, or are they just geniuses and I don't know it because I don't know the law?

Today, actually, I attended a discussion with Frank Michelman, some guy from Yale and Harvard, and most of what he said I was just like... okay? How does this matter?

Then some girl started talking about the data of attorneys per capita of the counties in our state. Then she told us what the average was. She proceeded to tell us that, essentially, the average is meaningless. I slapped myself and shook my head. The average is not meaningless. It is crucial, but you have to have other data alongside it. Alone, the average can be misleading. But it is by no means "essentially meaningless," as she put it. I just wanted to tell her to draw us a distribution curve so we could see how it was skewed. Doesn't everyone in law school have to take statistics?

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:23 am

LaBarrister wrote:Then some girl started talking about the data of attorneys per capita of the counties in our state. Then she told us what the average was. She proceeded to tell us that, essentially, the average is meaningless. I slapped myself and shook my head. The average is not meaningless. It is crucial, but you have to have other data alongside it. Alone, the average can be misleading. But it is by no means "essentially meaningless," as she put it. I just wanted to tell her to draw us a distribution curve so we could see how it was skewed. Doesn't everyone in law school have to take statistics?

She was right. The average is essentially meaningless. If this is a representative complaint you should feel very lucky, former engineer.
Last edited by sfhaze on Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

LaBarrister
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Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:20 pm

Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:25 am

sfhaze wrote:She was right. The average is essentially meaningless. If this is a representative complaint you should feel very lucky, former engineer.


Well then you and I agree to disagree, regardless of your background.

I don't see how any data is meaningless. It contributes to the big picture. Sure, you can misuse any piece of data, especially when taken out of the context of other data. But no data is meaningless.

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:44 am

LaBarrister wrote:I don't see how any data is meaningless. It contributes to the big picture. Sure, you can misuse any piece of data, especially when taken out of the context of other data. But no data is meaningless.

In the context of attorneys per county in your state, the overall average is essentially meaningless because it tells nothing of the distributions per county. Come on, you know this. Yes, no data is meaningless, and some data can be essentially meaningless.

LaBarrister
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:56 am

sfhaze wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:I don't see how any data is meaningless. It contributes to the big picture. Sure, you can misuse any piece of data, especially when taken out of the context of other data. But no data is meaningless.

In the context of attorneys per county in your state, the overall average is essentially meaningless because it tells nothing of the distributions per county. Come on, you know this. Yes, no data is meaningless, and some data can be essentially meaningless.


For the very specific point that she made, which was that the distribution of lawyers was not correlated to the need of lawyers, sure, the average was essentially meaningless. But couldn't she have thrown in a "in this context..."? I get hung up on stuff like that.

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:08 am

LaBarrister wrote:
sfhaze wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:I don't see how any data is meaningless. It contributes to the big picture. Sure, you can misuse any piece of data, especially when taken out of the context of other data. But no data is meaningless.

In the context of attorneys per county in your state, the overall average is essentially meaningless because it tells nothing of the distributions per county. Come on, you know this. Yes, no data is meaningless, and some data can be essentially meaningless.

For the very specific point that she made, which was that the distribution of lawyers was not correlated to the need of lawyers, sure, the average was essentially meaningless. But couldn't she have thrown in a "in this context..."? I get hung up on stuff like that.

Wasn't the context obvious? But I think your overall point is right in that lawyers and scientists/engineers tend to assume different things & think differently overall. Like it's astonishing what can pass for 'legal scholarship,' especially considering that the vast majority of even top engineering and science papers are peer reviewed, whereas 'legal scholarship' rarely is. Just one example of a major difference in thinking between the fields...

anonmyuos
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby anonmyuos » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:14 am

C'mon. You should be smart enough to realize this. Just because people come from different points of view doesn't mean they're idiots. You need to understand where people are coming from and go from there - if you continue to think people that don't think the way you think are idiots, you're going to have a rough go at life.

There are definitely some people that blow smoke out of their a$$. That's true in engineering as much as anywhere else. In law it's definitely harder to tell someone they're wrong then in engineering - that's also true. So you very well might be encountering some annoying people who believe they're god's gift to academia despite having spewed nothing but straight bile out of their mouth for the past 20 years. But don't discard everyone's viewpoint because of this - that's just as dumb as someone saying "oh well they're just a nerdy math guy. they don't understand politics." Both are infuriatingly simple-minded.

As to your point about averages ... let me tell you a story. A bunch of poor slobs -- let's say 20 -- are in a bar. Everyone literally has $1 in their pocket, which constitutes their entire wealth. Bill Gates walks into the bar and shouts "Congratulations everyone! The average wealth of a person in this bar is now over $3 billion dollars! Don't you all feel rich?" Long story short ... averages don't always tell the right story. You might want to rethink your view on statistics.

LaBarrister
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:18 am

anonmyuos wrote:C'mon. You should be smart enough to realize this. Just because people come from different points of view doesn't mean they're idiots. You need to understand where people are coming from and go from there - if you continue to think people that don't think the way you think are idiots, you're going to have a rough go at life.

There are definitely some people that blow smoke out of their a$$. That's true in engineering as much as anywhere else. In law it's definitely harder to tell someone they're wrong then in engineering - that's also true. So you very well might be encountering some annoying people who believe they're god's gift to academia despite having spewed nothing but straight bile out of their mouth for the past 20 years. But don't discard everyone's viewpoint because of this - that's just as dumb as someone saying "oh well they're just a nerdy math guy. they don't understand politics." Both are infuriatingly simple-minded.

As to your point about averages ... let me tell you a story. A bunch of poor slobs -- let's say 20 -- are in a bar. Everyone literally has $1 in their pocket, which constitutes their entire wealth. Bill Gates walks into the bar and shouts "Congratulations everyone! The average wealth of a person in this bar is now over $3 billion dollars! Don't you all feel rich?" Long story short ... averages don't always tell the right story. You might want to rethink your view on statistics.


She told us the same story. Wasn't expecting to hear that one twice today.

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:18 am

anonmyuos wrote:There are definitely some people that blow smoke out of their a$$. That's true in engineering as much as anywhere else.

Very well put. :idea:

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:21 am

LaBarrister wrote:She told us the same story. Wasn't expecting to hear that one twice today.

You two attend the same school perchance?

LaBarrister
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:24 am

I doubt it. My university's law school is a tier 2.

anonmyuos
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby anonmyuos » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:25 am

LaBarrister wrote:She told us the same story. Wasn't expecting to hear that one twice today.


Because it's true. As you said, averages can be misleading. And I appreciate that you want everyone to present you a distribution curve with every statement of statistics, but that's quite simply not going to happen. And I'm guessing when you talk about statistics, you don't present a distribution curve or show the r value or show the standard deviation. You talk like a normal person - you say what you think is the right conclusion to draw from the data presented.

I'm the first to rail against law professors and their ilk. I hate it. There are tons of foolish people out there pretending to be smart by saying lots of big words while ignoring reality. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater (was the another one used too?). Figure out for yourself what's right and what's wrong. If the person was presenting bad statistics - call them out on it and show them why they're wrong. But just because someone says something that you think isn't extremely well supported, don't run and yell about how engineers are so much better. They're not. They can also publish drivel. It's all about separating the wheat from the chaff (there's another one for you).

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:29 am

anonmyuos wrote:But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater (was the another one used too?).

:lol: Please say it was.

LaBarrister
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:30 am

anonmyuos wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:She told us the same story. Wasn't expecting to hear that one twice today.


Because it's true. As you said, averages can be misleading. And I appreciate that you want everyone to present you a distribution curve with every statement of statistics, but that's quite simply not going to happen. And I'm guessing when you talk about statistics, you don't present a distribution curve or show the r value or show the standard deviation. You talk like a normal person - you say what you think is the right conclusion to draw from the data presented.

I'm the first to rail against law professors and their ilk. I hate it. There are tons of foolish people out there pretending to be smart by saying lots of big words while ignoring reality. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater (was the another one used too?). Figure out for yourself what's right and what's wrong. If the person was presenting bad statistics - call them out on it and show them why they're wrong. But just because someone says something that you think isn't extremely well supported, don't run and yell about how engineers are so much better. They're not. They can also publish drivel. It's all about separating the wheat from the chaff (there's another one for you).


This woman was a law professor. Okay, so maybe some of my engineering professors are out of their mind, but they don't reach that point until they have gray hair. This woman was young for a professor, with blonde hair. I can't help that I was expecting a little more from someone of her caliber. It's not like I was bashing a law student. This woman was supposedly the cream of the crop ;-)

anonmyuos
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby anonmyuos » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:39 am

Just because this conversation stopped (kind of? I don't know but I feel like the majority of it stopped) and I feel like typing this, here's a fun statistics/criminal law hypo from my CrimLaw book that will piss off all statistics geeks.

Two friends decide to play Russian Roulette. They put a single bullet in a 6-shooter gun, spin the cylinder, and start pulling the trigger. At what point is one friend responsible for the death of the other?

a. After one pull (17% chance of death)
b. After two pulls (33% chance of death)
c. After three pulls (50% chance of death)
d. After four pulls (66% chance of death)
e. After five pulls (84% chance of death)
f. After six pulls (100% chance of death)


That was definitely in my Crim Law book. Only time I wanted to raise my hand and tell off the prof.

sfhaze
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby sfhaze » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:43 am

anonmyuos wrote:Just because this conversation stopped (kind of? I don't know but I feel like the majority of it stopped) and I feel like typing this, here's a fun statistics/criminal law hypo from my CrimLaw book that will piss off all statistics geeks.

Two friends decide to play Russian Roulette. They put a single bullet in a 6-shooter gun, spin the cylinder, and start pulling the trigger. At what point is one friend responsible for the death of the other?

a. After one pull (17% chance of death)
b. After two pulls (33% chance of death)
c. After three pulls (50% chance of death)
d. After four pulls (66% chance of death)
e. After five pulls (84% chance of death)
f. After six pulls (100% chance of death)


That was definitely in my Crim Law book. Only time I wanted to raise my hand and tell off the prof.

You have got to be shitting me. I'm guessing most popular answer in class was f, i.e., 'beyond a reasonable doubt' ...? :lol:

LaBarrister
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:47 am

anonmyuos wrote:Just because this conversation stopped (kind of? I don't know but I feel like the majority of it stopped) and I feel like typing this, here's a fun statistics/criminal law hypo from my CrimLaw book that will piss off all statistics geeks.

Two friends decide to play Russian Roulette. They put a single bullet in a 6-shooter gun, spin the cylinder, and start pulling the trigger. At what point is one friend responsible for the death of the other?

a. After one pull (17% chance of death)
b. After two pulls (33% chance of death)
c. After three pulls (50% chance of death)
d. After four pulls (66% chance of death)
e. After five pulls (84% chance of death)
f. After six pulls (100% chance of death)


That was definitely in my Crim Law book. Only time I wanted to raise my hand and tell off the prof.


This is so sad.

LaBarrister
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby LaBarrister » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:49 am

And that question pisses me off. Here's at what point the friend became responsible: when he aimed the gun at his friend and pulled the trigger.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:22 am

Wow, what an awful crimlaw hypo. Was it trying to get at the difference between reckless and knowledge?

Seeing the author of that casebook at a casino would be pretty funny: "No, you don't understand--I have a 1/6 chance of winning and that was my sixth bet. I was guaranteed to win!"

ETA: Misread hypo :cry: --thought it was saying each pull was a turn (so spin and pull trigger 6 different times).
Last edited by Richie Tenenbaum on Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Cinderella
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby Cinderella » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:14 am

LaBarrister wrote:
anonmyuos wrote:Just because this conversation stopped (kind of? I don't know but I feel like the majority of it stopped) and I feel like typing this, here's a fun statistics/criminal law hypo from my CrimLaw book that will piss off all statistics geeks.

Two friends decide to play Russian Roulette. They put a single bullet in a 6-shooter gun, spin the cylinder, and start pulling the trigger. At what point is one friend responsible for the death of the other?

a. After one pull (17% chance of death)
b. After two pulls (33% chance of death)
c. After three pulls (50% chance of death)
d. After four pulls (66% chance of death)
e. After five pulls (84% chance of death)
f. After six pulls (100% chance of death)


That was definitely in my Crim Law book. Only time I wanted to raise my hand and tell off the prof.


This is so sad.


Anyone care to explain what's wrong with the statistics here? I've never taken a statistics class, but this looks right to me.

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guano
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby guano » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:25 am

Cinderella wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:
anonmyuos wrote:Just because this conversation stopped (kind of? I don't know but I feel like the majority of it stopped) and I feel like typing this, here's a fun statistics/criminal law hypo from my CrimLaw book that will piss off all statistics geeks.

Two friends decide to play Russian Roulette. They put a single bullet in a 6-shooter gun, spin the cylinder, and start pulling the trigger. At what point is one friend responsible for the death of the other?

a. After one pull (17% chance of death)
b. After two pulls (33% chance of death)
c. After three pulls (50% chance of death)
d. After four pulls (66% chance of death)
e. After five pulls (84% chance of death)
f. After six pulls (100% chance of death)


That was definitely in my Crim Law book. Only time I wanted to raise my hand and tell off the prof.


This is so sad.


Anyone care to explain what's wrong with the statistics here? I've never taken a statistics class, but this looks right to me.

without going into detail, because it's late at night:

on the first pull there are 6 chambers, so a 1/6 chance (17%)
On the second pull, there are 5 chambers left, so a 1/5 chance (20%)
On the third pull, there are 4 chambers left, so a 1/4 chance (25%)
on the fourth pull, there are 3 chambers left, so a 1/3 chance (33%)
on the fifth pull, there are 2 chambers left, so a 1/2 chance (50%)
on the sixth pull, it's darwinism at work

Edit: also, fuck the OP for being exclusionary
Last edited by guano on Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

Cinderella
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby Cinderella » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:46 am

Ah I see. I thought they were going after the gambler's fallacy. Thanks.

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guano
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby guano » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:49 am

Cinderella wrote:Ah I see. I thought they were going after the gambler's fallacy. Thanks.

There are lots of fallacies prevalent among gamblers, but a good statistician should be able to win more often than not (although casinos make it as hard as possible)

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:57 am

guano wrote:
Cinderella wrote:Ah I see. I thought they were going after the gambler's fallacy. Thanks.

There are lots of fallacies prevalent among gamblers, but a good statistician should be able to win more often than not (although casinos make it as hard as possible)


The only table game that I know of where the odds can actually be in the player's favor is blackjack (and it requires card counting to tilt the odds back towards the player--which is hard with a 6 deck shoe, esp. when I don't think most casinos play all the way down).

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EvilClinton
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Re: For Used-to-be-engineers Only!

Postby EvilClinton » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:01 am

OP: The only explanation is that you have Asperger's Syndrome.




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