Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mathemagician Persi Diaconis
Show for July 20, 2014

When he was 14, Persi Diaconis ran away from home to become one of the world’s great magicians. Now he’s a world-class mathematician, and his two professions have more in common than you might think.

Persi and I had a very entertaining conversation about his careers in show biz and academe, covering topics such as:

  • His friendships with other magicians, including Ricky Jay, Randi and Dai Vernon
  • Some surprisingly profound mathematical card tricks
  • Why science needs statisticians
  • Duping others and being duped himself
  • Why he’s so secretive

Click the play arrow above to hear the interview, or the download icon on the upper right to get your own mp3.

Persi’s well-known as an inventor of original tricks and sometimes helps other performers come up with new routines. For instance, he had a hand in this classic bit from Steve Martin:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Show for Nov. 11, 2012: How to Predict an Election—Polling Aggregators Sam Wang and Drew Linzer

Nate Silver isn’t the only forecaster to project the results of last Tuesday’s presidential election with preternatural accuracy. Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium and Drew Linzer of Votamatic both hit the bullseye, too, and they explained to me why it’s not really so preternatural after all (hint: statistics works). We talked about their methods, why so many pundits and political partisans missed the boat, and whether it’s bedtime for bloviators.


Fearless forecasters: Neuroscientist Sam Wang and Political Scientist Drew Linzer

You can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)