Frequentists vs Baysians

[James at On Deciding … Better] After an interesting discussion about the ideological wars between Frequentists vs Baysians, (which explained some things I had observed but didn’t have enough background information to even ask intelligent questions about) he summarizes with: “The future is uncertain but it is not random. I can predict the future, I just can’t know it.” … (there will be a short tangent, then we’ll return)

In a previous job incarnation I worked with an archaeologist who I finally realized was a strict empiricist. Now, philosophically someone of that position would rely upon their data (empirical knowledge), and only on data to make their deductions. In the strictest form there would be no induction or inference, only what the data could ‘tell’ you. Let me tell you, its pretty hard to do archaeology that way. For that matter, its pretty hard to do pretend you’re doing science without both types of logic. (inductive and deductive)

After some time I thought that things were somewhat twisted in how our analyses were written up. Gradually, I began to realize that certain words he would use that I thought meant one thing meant something else to him. For instance, accurate. People generally use the word as a synonym for precise. [update: OK, I’m off base here (that’s what you get when you write late and don’t think deeply enough). rather than ‘precise’ I mean something like ‘if I take the measurement or observation will I get an acceptably close result’. But I didn’t, and don’t, know the right term to use right now (perhaps because I’m doing this too late, again)] I gradually began to realize that he meant accurate as in ‘truth’, as in certainty. Truth with a capital T, as in ‘we no longer need to investigate this because we have uncovered TRUTH‘. That’s where our discussions of last week about science and faith were so satisfying. We agreed that science is observation, not divination. My colleague carried science from investigation over into the world of uncovering truth. … </tangent>

To bring things back to the good Dr. Vornov’s discussion, until the end of his explanation I wasn’t sure where he was going. My own shadow play of hearing things from my past was extending James’ logic a certain way. (I apologize James.) In my mind I was hearing my ex-colleague would have said “my research is enough to convince me of the truth”. The hard part was, you had to come to the same conclusions or you were wrong, with a capital “W”. I can’t imagine why I felt the need to move on. … postscript as it turns out I think I would be in the Frequentists faction. But then, I don’t know what the Baysians stance is, except by inference …

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I am the non-admin personality of blivet tool & die I have been academically trained as a professional archaeologist (MA, RPA) and now live in Arvada, CO. Father, husband, scientist, geek of several trades, and high-functioning Autistic adult. Future planetary expatriate?