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Sniffnoy comments on Bayes' Theorem Illustrated (My Way) - Less Wrong

126 Post author: komponisto 03 June 2010 04:40AM

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Comment author: Sniffnoy 04 June 2010 09:32:13AM *  1 point [-]

Well for example, if you have a situation where the evidence leads you to believe that something is true, and there is an easy, simple, reliable test to prove its not true, why would the bayesian method waste its time? Immagine you witness something which could be possible, but its extremely odd. Like gravity not working or something. It could be a hallucinations, or a glitch if your talking about a computer, and there might be an easy way to prove it is or isn't. Under either scenerio, whether its a hallucination or reality is just weird, it makes an assumption and then has no reason to prove whether this is correct. Actually, that might have been a bad example, but pretty much every scenario you can think of, where making an assumption can be a bad thing and you can test the assumptions, would work.

Firstly, priors are important; if something has a low prior probability, it's not generally going to get to a high probability quickly. Secondly, not all evidence has the same strength. Remember in particular that the strength of evidence is measured by the likelihood ratio. If you see something that could likely be caused by hallucinations, that isn't necessarily very strong evidence for it; but hallucinations are not totally arbitrary, IINM. Still, if you witness objects spontaneously floating off the ground, even if you know this is an unlikely hallucination, the prior for some sort of gravity failure will be so low that the posterior will probably still be very low. Not that those are the only two alternatives, of course.