Down the Stairs and to the Left (This Week at the Philosophy Colloquium)
I'm speaking at the
philosophy department's colloquium this week. I do not pretend to fully
understand how this happened, but no doubt that by the end of the day I will
enjoy a simultaneously higher and more profound level of puzzlement about many
- "Praxis and Ideology in Bayesian Statistics"
- A substantial school in the philosophy of science identifies Bayesian
inference with inductive inference and even rationality as such, and seems to
be strengthened by the rise of Bayesian statistics in applications. In this
talk, I hope to persuade you that the most successful practices of Bayesian
statistics do not actually support that philosophy but rather accord much
better with sophisticated forms of hypothetico-deductivism. Drawing on the
literature on the consistency of Bayesian updating and also on experience of
applied work, I examine the actual role of prior distributions in Bayesian
models, and the crucial aspects of model checking and model revision, which
fall outside the scope of Bayesian confirmation theory. I argue that good
Bayesian practice is very like good frequentist practice; that Bayesian methods
are best understood as regularization devices; and that Bayesian inference is
no more inductive than frequentist inference, i.e., not very. At best, the
inductivist view has encouraged researchers to fit and compare models without
checking them; at worst, theorists have actively discouraged practitioners from
performing model checking because it does not conform to their ideology.
- Based on joint work with Andrew Gelman.
- Date: Thursday, 20 January 2011
- Time and place: Reception 4:00--4:35 in Doherty Hall, talk 4:45--6:00 in Baker Hall A53.
Posted at January 17, 2011 12:45 | permanent link