A riff on the universe as a simulation.

"Walhall” by Emil Doepler (c. 1905)

“Walhall” by Emil Doepler (c. 1905)

Recent Advances in Statistical Mega Simulation!

Recently I asked members of my clinical team to defer committing to a specific analysis in an abstract as I believed I had a 17.63% chance (+/- 7.61%) of convincing them of going with a somewhat more complicated analysis before we got to the eventual conference presentation. Some clinical team members were amused by my somewhat precise estimate of our chance of convincing them, and you might be as well. But let me assure you that it is derived from some pretty serious statistical methodology. Look for it in “Srinivasan Shankar, Mindy Lu, Richard Zhang and Mohammad Ali (2017) in the Journal of Mega Statistical Simulation. Vol 88, Issue 12.” ISBN45679896. Impact Factor 9.99.

Wanted to give you all a sneak preview of this earth-shaking treatise.

It all started when we read this article below in the Guardian where Elon Musk of Tesla fame makes the argument that we are all living in a simulation. (He claimed elsewhere that there is only a 1 in billion chance that we are not a simulation)


We thought about it a while and then it hit us – these Elon Musks and the other tech people, some of whom even flunk out of college, have got their hands on the simulation program and are tinkering with it to make themselves rich and famous. So, I got Dick, our top-notch statistical programmer, to hack Elon Musk’s computer and there it was – Universe_Creation_Program_for _this_Universe.sas. Dick quickly downloaded the program.

We tried to recover, as best as we could from this foul revised version, the original intent of the One, the Worshipful Almighty Programmer who created us all (or the Divine Open Source Programmers of Valhalla if you are polytheistic like me – see picture above of our Divine Creators with wearable computing devices on their heads). Then we ran it 10,000 times on my company’s new UNIX computing environment (much faster than Elon Musk’s Laptop) and created 10,000 universes. Now in each of these universes you have my clinical team and all the rest of us walking around doing the usual behaving and misbehaving. We un-blinded ourselves to the future in these universes (with permission from the Senate Income inequality commission who obviously have a strong interest in any partisan tinkering of the simulated universe we live in) and carefully compiled our results.


In 1763 out of 10,000 simulations we statisticians manage to convince our clinical team in the future about the utility of said complicated statistical maneuver. Leading to a point estimate of 17.63% with a confidence interval of +/-7.61%.

Incidentally Elon Musk is still in the energy and transportation business – he is my gas station attendant at the gas station at the corner of Triangle and 206 in Hillsborough, New Jersey in all 10,000 simulated universes – a data point with a surprising lack of variability.

There is a lot of other interesting stuff but I must really be wrapping it up now – there is something evolving in our simulated universes. My boss Valerie is thinking of firing me for posting seemingly strange notes on the internet. So, I must tinker with the program a little to make her VP of statistics and programming at Bristol Myers Squibb instead and have one of my colleagues Mindy, Richard or Mohammad as my boss at our pharma company.

PS: Some names and details in this note have been changed to protect the identities of my collaborators- we accidentally deleted Donald Trump in all our simulated universes and the KGB, for some reason, does not like that very much.