# probability

• ## Knightian Uncertainty

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[Update: I have fixed some broken links, and modified the discussion of QBism and the recent paper by Chris Fuchs— thanks to Chris himself for taking the time to read and find my mistakes!] For some reason, I’ve come across an idea called “Knightian Uncertainty” quite a bit lately. Frank Knight was an economist of…

• ## I think I’m a Bayesian. Am I wrong?

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Continuing my recent, seemingly interminable, series of too-technical posts on probability theory… To understand this one you’ll need to remember Bayes’ Theorem, and the resulting need for a Bayesian statistician to come up with an appropriate prior distribution to describe her state of knowledge in the absence of the experimental data she is considering, updated…

• ## Kind of Bayesian

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[Apologies — this is long, technical, and there are too few examples. I am putting it out for commentary more than anything else…] In some recent articles and blog posts (including one in response to astronomer David Hogg), Columbia University statistician Andrew Gelman has outlined the philosophical position that he and some of his colleagues…

• ## Bayesian Methods in Cosmology

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The perfect stocking-stuffer for that would-be Bayesian cosmologist you’ve been shopping for: As readers here will know, the Bayesian view of probability is just that probabilities are statements about our knowledge of the world, and thus eminently suited to use in scientific inquiry (indeed, this is really the only consistent way to make probabilistic statements…

• ## Conditional Probability explained

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Before it happened, I would have said slim. But since it happened, 100%. –Lawrence Fishburne, CSI, on the chances of being hit in the head by a tortoise dropped by a bird of prey. (This goes well with Ted Bunn’s exegesis of the Daily Show’s brief foray into probability theory for their segment filmed at…

• ## The Measurement Problem

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OK, this is going to be a very long post. About something I don’t pretend to be expert in. But it is science, at least. A couple of weeks ago, Radio 4’s highbrow “In Our Time” tackled the so-called “Measurement Problem”. That is: quantum mechanics predicts probabilities, not definite outcomes. And yet we see a…

• ## Bayesian Inference in the NY Times

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In today’s Sunday NY Times Magazine, there’s a long article by psychologist Steven Pinker, on “Personal Genomics”, the growing ability for individuals to get information about their genetic inheritance. He discusses the evolution of psychological traits versus intelligence, and highlights the complicated interaction amongst genes, and between genes and society. But what caught my eye…

• ## Logical Proof, Scientific Proof, Religious “Proof”

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With yesterday’s article on “Faith” (vs Science) in the Guardian, and today’s London debate between bioligist Lewis Wolpert and the pseudorational William Lane Craig (previewed on the BBC’s Today show this morning), the UK seems to be the hotbed of tension between science and religion. I’ll leave it to the experts for a fuller exposition,…

• ## Front Page Probability

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In a bid to combine numeracy with sports coverage, The Observer presents the Poisson distribution as a headline on its front page today. Supposedly, it has something to do with predicting the number of goals a team will score in the World Cup. The Poisson distribution is P(n) = λn e-λ/n! This gives the probability,…