## Tuesday, April 17, 2012

### Baye's Theorem and the Existence of God?

Summary

In the article, What is Bayes’s theorem, and how can it be used to assign probabilities to questions such as the existence of God? What scientific value does it have?, Chris Wiggins explores how Bayes Theorem is used and what applications it has. Bayes gives us the relationship between what we know and what we want to know.

Technique

The technique applied to sickness and testing is applied as follows; What we know = the probability of testing positive given that you are sick. What we want to know = the probability that you are sick given that you tested positive. Bayes takes into account the error rate of the testing – which makes all the difference.

Furthermore, Wiggins explores how this might be applied to the existence of God. Bayes theorem is a way of thinking about uncertainty and by using quantitative data, using mathematics as a tool to think clearly about the world.

Strengths

• · Can be applied to many relationships
• · Used to tackle the unknown
• · When explained clearly, is useful for understanding statistics

Challenges

• · Complex theorem
• · Difficult to articulate to a decision maker
• · Can be time consuming

Conclusions

Bayes Theorem is a complex one that requires good examples to clearly illustrate its utility. Chris Wiggins applied Bayes Theorem in a simple form, but it can become very complex especially when tackling unknowns. One of the most common Bayesian applications today is to compare data models and which one is more suitable for the given data. But even then, Bayes Theorem can lead to more problems than solutions.

Bibliography

Wiggins, Chris. What is Bayes’s theorem, and how can it be used to assign probabilities to questions such as the existence of God? What scientific value does it have?,. Retrieved from; http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-is-bayess-theorem-an

#### 1 comment:

1. I think that difficulties communicating bayes analysis to decision makers is a common theme in many of these articles.