Litter on the Bayesian Way?

From: Emil Gilliam (
Date: Sat Sep 18 2004 - 13:27:34 MDT

 From Cosma Shalizi's review of Deborah G. Mayo, "Error and the Growth
of Experimental Knowledge":

"Bayesians not only assign such probabilities, they do so a priori,
condensing their prejudices into real numbers between 0 and 1
inclusive; two Bayesians cannot meet without smiling at each other's
priors. True, they can shown that, in the limit of presenting an
infinite amount of (consistent) evidence, the priors "wash out"
(provided they're "non-extreme," not 0 or 1 to start with); but it has
also been shown that, "for any body of evidence there are prior
probabilities in a hypothesis H that, while nonextreme, will result in
the two scientists having posterior probabilities in H that differ by
as much as one wants" (p. 84n, Mayo's emphasis). This is discouraging,
to say the least, and accords very poorly with the way that scientists
actually do come to agree, very quickly, on the value and implications
of pieces of evidence. Bayesian reconstructions of episodes in the
history of science, Mayo says, are on a level with claiming that
Leonardo da Vinci painted by numbers since, after all, there's some
paint-by-numbers kit which will match any painting you please."

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