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The Bayesian Trap

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Bayes’ theorem explained with examples and implications for life.

I didn’t say it explicitly in the video, but in my view the Bayesian trap is interpreting events that happen repeatedly as events that happen inevitably. They may be inevitable OR they may simply be the outcome of a series of steps, which likely depend on our behaviour. Yet our expectation of a certain outcome often leads us to behave just as we always have which only ensures that outcome. To escape the Bayesian trap, we must be willing to experiment.

Useful references:

The Signal and the Noise, Nate Silver

The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy, by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

Bayes’ theorem or rule (there are many different versions of the same concept) has fascinated me for a long time due to its uses both in mathematics and statistics, and to solve real world problems. Bayesian inference has been used to crack the Enigma Code and to filter spam email. Bayes has also been used to locate the wreckage from plane crashes deep beneath the sea.

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