Bayesianism is an eternalism

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Bayesianism is a rationalist ideology that attempts to rescue eternalism’s promise of certainty, in the face of nebulosity, with probability theory. This is an instance of the continuum gambit. It is a wrong-way reduction inasmuch as it requires you to somehow assign a real number to every possible hypothesis, which is much more difficult than actually effective ways of dealing with uncertainty.

It is widely noted that Bayesianism operates as a quasi-religious cult. This is not just my personal hobby-horse.

Debunking Bayesianism is a complex, technical subject. I’ve refuted one of its specific mistaken claims in “Probability theory does not extend logic.” I’ve made some more general, off-hand, preliminary remarks here and in “How to think real good.”

To deflect some classes of possible objections from Bayesians:

  • I will not take any position on the truth of Bayesian vs. frequentist metaphysics.
  • I will not take any position on the usefulness of Bayesian vs. frequentist statistical methods.
  • I will not argue that Bayesian methods are not sometimes useful in practice.

None of those are relevant. The point, rather, is that Bayesianism promises meta-certainty, but cannot deliver.

I cover the failures of Bayesianism in detail in Part One of In The Cells of the Eggplant. As of the most recent time I updated this page, only one relevant chapter of that has been published, “The probability of green cheese.”


This page introduces a section containing the following pages:

This page is in the section Rationalist ideologies as eternalism,
      which is in Non-theistic eternalism,
      which is in Eternalism: the fixation of meaning,
      which is in Meaning and meaninglessness,
      which is in Doing meaning better.

The previous page is ⚒︎ The continuum gambit.

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book. Start with an appetizer, or the table of contents. Its “metablog” includes additional essays that are not part of the book.

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The book is a work in progress; pages marked ⚒︎ are under construction.