Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Pilgrim's Tale: Bayesian Dragons and Other Illusions

I recently decided to post on the web some of my older papers that either are not available on LEXIS or WESTLAW or are available only in an imperfect form (because of the inability of the LEXIS and WESTLAW databases to reproduce diagrams, charts, and similar matter). Hence, Dear Reader, you can now peruse my disquisition about the "New [sic; see below] Evidence Scholarship," a disquisition that takes the form of a homily or parable about Bayesian dragons and other illusions.
  • The new evidence scholarship is no longer as new as it once was: this new type of scholarship has been in existence for more than 30 years.
  • A few curmudgeons have asserted that there never was anything really new about the New Evidence Scholarship. Some meticulous observers see precursors in 17th century and 18th century literature on probability, and other observers trace the origins of NES to Classical Antiquity. These curmudgeons are, of course, correct -- to some degree. The New Evidence Scholarship is not wholly original. But it is significantly different from its ancestors. For example, some tools used by some New Evidence Scholars -- e.g., fuzzy sets, computer-generated images, certain statistical methods, probabilistic inference networks -- did not even exist until the second half of the twentieth century.
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