April 15, 2005

I'm Going to Post Something about the Suprise Inspection Paradox Next Week

...but, if you check my blog every night, you won't know that I've posted about the SIP before you actually check and see the post. (Unless you ask someone else, and you wouldn't do that, would you?)

I'm reading Andrew Crumey's novel Mr Mee, having heard about it from Chris Bertram, and I quote this passage (pp. 182-3):

Tissot showed a similar misunderstanding of my teaching when, exasperated by his continuing moroseness and his near-permanent occupancy of my writing desk, I said to him, 'Next week I am going to bring your wife here so that you can speak to her in person and sort out your difficulties. I know you don't want to see her, and so I shall not tell you which day she will arrive; but you can be sure that you'll meet her before the week is out.'
Tissot knew his wife would not be brought to confront him next Friday, because in that case he could be certain by Thursday evening that she must be coming, and he could make himself absent. But equally, I would also have to avoid Thursday, since otherwise he would be forewarned when Wednesday passed without a scene. Dismissing every other day in a similar manner, Tissot concluded that his wife could never show up unexpectedly to harangue him; but on Thursday he answered the door to be greeted not only by her, but also by her mother, both of whom boxed him soundly about the ears while I made myself scarce, quietly judging that so poor a logician deserved everything he got.

I already know how the novel turns out, anyway: Mr Mee ends up really, really, really sadd.

Posted by Matt Weiner at April 15, 2005 01:17 PM

I have no idea what you're talking about, but that anecdote is hilarious.

Posted by: bitchphd at April 16, 2005 10:04 AM

The anecdote is supposed to be an example of the surprise inspection paradox (as is the post); and the last sentence is from here.

Unfortunately I can't completely recommend the book. The part I quoted isn't really the Surprise Inspection Paradox, because the narrator doesn't say that Tissot won't know which day his wife will arrive on until she arrives.

And, speaking as the professional epistemologist John Quiggin calls for here, that passage isn't really the Monty Hall problem either. The captive doesn't know that, whatever happened, the chief would pick up an empty cup and then give him the chance to switch. In fact, it's entirely possible that the chief would (pick up the empty cup and then give the captive the chance to switch) only if the captive had initially picked the cup with the ring under it; in which case it's to the captive's advantage not to switch.

Also, the book turns out to have the quality of being sort of an extended in-joke. Though I guess I'm not in any position to complain about that.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 16, 2005 11:57 AM

Right, I got that the passage illustrated the SIP, whatever that is, but not why you were talking about it. So it's one of those, "I'm reading about this thing and making a little in joke note to myself" things, is it?

B/c I love that kind of shit.

Posted by: bitchphd at April 16, 2005 02:08 PM

Well, I do intend to post something about the SIP next week. And I haven't decided when or what yet. So the first part is true, as well as in-jokey.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 17, 2005 09:11 PM

I wait with bated breath.

Posted by: bitchphd at April 17, 2005 09:55 PM