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PROBABILITY DOES NOT EXIST (Part IV): De Finetti’s 1974 Preface (Part II)

Here we continue our coverage of the 1974 preface of Bruno de Finetti’s masterpiece “Theory of Probability”, which is missing from the reprint of the 1970 book. Multiple posts are required to cover the entire preface. Below, the use of italics is always as in the original text.

De Finetti’s Preface, Continued [Annotated]

“The numerous, different, opposed attempts to put forward particular points of view which, in the opinion of their supporters, would endow Probability Theory with a ‘nobler’ status, or a ‘more scientific’ character, or ‘firmer’ philosophical or logical foundations, have only served to generate confusion and obscurity, and to provoke well-known polemics and disagreements–even between supporters of essentially the same framework.
      The main points of view that have been put forward are as follows.
      The classical view, based on physical considerations of symmetry, in which one should be obliged to give the same probability to such ‘symmetric’ cases. But which symmetry? And, in any case, why? The original sentence becomes meaningful if reversed: the symmetry is probabilistically significant, in someone’s opinion, if it leads him to assign the same probabilities to such events.”


PROBABILITY DOES NOT EXIST (Part III): De Finetti’s 1974 Preface (Part I)

In an earlier blogpost I complained that the reprint of Bruno de Finetti’s masterpiece “Theory of Probability” concerns the 1970 version, and that the famous preface to the 1974 edition is missing. This blogpost provides an annotated version of this preface (de Finetti, 1974, pp. x-xiv). As the preface spans about four pages, it will take several posts to cover it all. Below, the use of italics is always as in the original text.

De Finetti’s Preface [Annotated]

“Is it possible that in just a few lines I can achieve what I failed to achieve in my many books and articles? Surely not. Nevertheless, this preface affords me the opportunity, and I shall make the attempt. It may be that misunderstandings which persist in the face of refutations dispersed or scattered over some hundreds of pages can be resolved once and for all if all the arguments are pre-emptively piled up against them.”


Book Review of “Bayesian Statistics the Fun Way”

The subtitle says it all: “Understanding statistics and probability with Star Wars, Lego, and rubber ducks”. And the author, Will Kurt, does not disappoint: the writing is no-nonsense, the content is understandable, the examples are engaging, and the Bayesian concepts are explained clearly. Here are some of the book’s features that I particularly enjoyed:

A Primer on Bayesian Model-Averaged Meta-Analysis

This post is an extended synopsis of a preprint that is available on PsyArXiv: https://psyarxiv.com/97qup/


Meta-analysis is the predominant approach for quantitatively synthesizing a set of studies. If the studies themselves are of high quality, meta-analysis can provide valuable insights into the current scientific state of knowledge about a particular phenomenon. In psychological science, the most common approach is to conduct frequentist meta-analysis. In this primer, we discuss an alternative method, Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis. This procedure combines the results of four Bayesian meta-analysis models: (1) fixed-effect null hypothesis, (2) fixed-effect alternative hypothesis, (3) random-effects null hypothesis, and (4) random-effects alternative hypothesis. These models are combined according to their plausibilities in light of the observed data to address the two key questions “Is the overall effect non-zero?” and “Is there between-study variability in effect size?”. Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis therefore avoids the need to select either a fixed-effect or random-effects model and instead takes into account model uncertainty in a principled manner.

Omit Needless Words: An Unapproachable Example of Conciseness Related by the Traveling Chinese Story-teller Kai Lung

As mentioned in an earlier post, the epigraphs in Harold Jeffreys’s 1935 geophysics book “Earthquakes and mountains” prompted me to read “The Wallet of Kai Lung”, a collection of short stories by Ernest Bramah Smith (1868-1942). In one of the stories, “The confession of Kai Lung”, the traveling Chinese story-teller Kai Lung relates the following autobiographical tale, “an unapproachable example of conciseness”:

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