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.


This page introduces a section containing the following:

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.

This page’s topics are Eternalism and Rationalism.

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book (in progress), plus a “metablog” that comments on it. The book begins with an appetizer. Alternatively, you might like to look at its table of contents, or some other starting points. Classification of pages by topics supplements the book and metablog structures. Terms with dotted underlining (example: meaningness) show a definition if you click on them. Pages marked with ⚒ are still under construction. Copyright ©2010–2017 David Chapman.