MM on ME

 

Mar 21, 2010

 

 


 

Probability for discerning rational minds + note on miracles

This continues my previous post in this thread (#20, called "Egoism + stupidity + groupthinking + prejudice") with a link I discovered yesterday, which is MUCH worth investigating if you are in any way seriously interested in probability theory, especially if, like me and Jaynes (independently, but he was much sooner), you hold that probability is a refinement or extension of deductive logic:

Title: Probability Theory: The Logic Of Science - By E. T. Jaynes
Link: http://www-biba.inrialpes.fr/Jaynes/prob.html

This is an EXCELLENT text by a (late) prominent physicist. It does require some "mathematical maturity", as the phrase is, though the demands are not high, while the verbal explanations are very clear. There is a useful if brief Wikipedia-entry on Jaynes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Thompson_Jaynes

Now into Proper Postmodern Respectful Mode: I quote from the book a passage that is relevant to an earlier topic discussed on this forum, where I've - alas! - shown insufficient amounts of Respect:

 

 

It is interesting that Laplace perceived this phenomenon long ago. His Essai Philosophique sur les probabilitÚs (1819) has a long chapter on the Probabilities of Testimonies", in which he calls attention to the immense weight of testimonies necessary to admit a suspension of natural laws". He notes that those who make recitals of miracles, decrease rather than augment the belief which they wish to inspire; for then those recitals render very probable the error or the falsehood of their authors. But that which diminishes the belief of educated men often increases that of the uneducated, always avid for the marvelous."

We observe the same phenomenon at work today, not only in the ESP enthusiast, but in the astrologer, reincarnationist, exorcist, fundamentalist preacher or cultist of any sort, who attracts a loyal following among the uneducated by claiming all kinds of miracles; but has zero success in converting educated people to his teachings. Educated people, taught to believe that a cause{e ect relation requires a physical mechanism to bring it about, are scornful of arguments which invoke miracles; but the uneducated seem actually to prefer them.
-- op.cit. p. 505

Lacking respect, like the disrespectable Laplace and Hume, I was disrespectful enough to dare to utter forth like them, as if genius makes a difference, or indeed as if it is allowed to exist postmodernistically. (Of course not! "WE are all individuals!" WE are all equals! Nobody can be better than us in any respect! That's what "respect" means, postmodernistically!) But happily, the ever respectful Kurt - clearly *at least* the respectable equal of these disrespectable scoffers and sceptics - intervened and taught me, that

 

 

Everything is relative. Certainly there are ways of healing that we do not yet understand. Science has a lot yet to learn about the mind, body and whatever spiritual powers there are in the universe.

since when I have been living for three weeks in relative postmodern enlightened ecstasy. Satori: "Everything is relative."! Enlightenment: "Science has a lot yet to learn ..."! Aahh... that I had to grow into my 60th year of life to see that all my 45 years of trying to really understand things were completely wasted! "Everything is relative" and one can make a career in science, so called, these postmodern days, with the mental and moral qualities that 45 years ago were fit only for farmhands and pimps! There is Postmodern Progress and Equality for you!

So... if you are so disrespectable that you believe you may have some disrespectable ground for the disrespectable belief that you are *not* the intellectual equal of each and anyone, maybe Jaynes is just the thing for you. The English and the mathematics are excellent, as is the reasoning, so the only setback is that it is a lot of - very fine - text indeed.

O, and respectfully, of course: Postmodernists need not bother, since they will find that, relatively speaking, their minds are not fit for it, which is a clear postmodern *proof* that Jaynes's text and my person, again relatively speaking, are no good at all, and arrogant to boot. (Additional reasons are that both he and I are so utterly and completely unreasonable and irrational that we need rational evidence to be able to start having respect, and that both he and I believe(d) some human beings are - really - more rational or reasonable than others, or more moral or courageous than others, etc. Perish the thought! "Everything is relative." "War is peace". "Ignorance is bliss". "All are equal but all postmodernists are more equal - with respect! - than others."

But the unhappy few who lack the postmodern mentality, mindset and morality may be glad to learn that the general ideas that inspired Jaynes are also explained, in briefer form, with less mathematics, by the great mathematician G. Polya, in "Patterns of Plausible Inference", that is vol II of his "Mathematics and plausible reasoning", who was one of Jaynes's inspirations.

Maarten.

P.S. From the commented references of Jaynes's book, also in support of Hillary Johnson:

 

 

Bean, Wm. B. (1950), Aphorisms from the Bedside Teaching and Writings of Sir William Osler (1849{1919). Henry Schumann, N. Y. Osler perceived the reasoning format of medical diagnosis in a form essentially identical with that given later by George Polya.

P.P.S. Here is a link of a better edition of Jaynes's "Probability Theory: The Logic Of Science", for it has better i.e. clearer lettering and is in 1 file of 482 Kb:

-- http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/prob/book.pdf

Correction: The above is an introductory part.

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