Bayesian probability thinking is often applied to the ID controversy, in different directions. Further to: The stories we are allowed to know and tell, here’s an interesting item on Bayesian priors, featuring the Boy Who Cried Wolf. The author wishes to make a political argument, but I want to focus on a specific point of interest:
… the popular conception of the boy who cried wolf is only half complete.
Villagers begin by believing that no one would falsely claim to get attacked by a wolf. But a false alarm – and the possible subsequent false alarms – lower their probabilistic calculations of wolf attacks and the negative consequences assigned to each claim of a wolf attack.
Then, of course, the boy gets eaten by a wolf. More.
He’s certainly right that most people who use the term “crying wolf” as a throwaway putdown do not believe there even is a wolf. Which amounts to missing the point of the story. Actually, if there had really been no wolf at all, that would be a different story called Chicken Little ( the Sky is Falling). Glass notes:
Economist Thomas Bayes pioneered this method of probabilistic thinking, and it’s now universally used in thinking about how peoples’ beliefs should respond to new information.
Basically, it means that if we live in wolf country, we may have to put up with many false sightings of wolves, though not of falling skies. So the first thing we need to do is compile evidence as to whether we live in wolf country. Follow UD News at Twitter!