# Abusing Bayes

I am hoping that some members here are familiar with Bayes’ Theorem and willing to share their knowledge or at the very least interested enough in the topic to do some research and share their opinions.

– What is Bayes Theorem
– What can it tell us
– How does it work
– Can Bayes’ Theorem be abused and if so how

As evidence that Bayes’ Theroem can be abused I offer the following book:

The Probability of God: A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth

The blurb on Amazon says: …a math equation developed more than 200 years ago by noted European philosopher Thomas Bayes can be used to calculate the probability that God exists.

This book is written by an author with a PhD in theoretical physics, but I think this book is nonsense and an abuse of Bayes’ Theorem and I would like to know what others think and why.

And closer to home I offer the following:

At least one prominent poster here believes that if we observe an eye we can form an opinion about how easy it is to evolve an eye, and that if we observe many eyes in different lineages that we can conclude that it is easy to evolve an eye, and that Bayes’ Theorem supports that conclusion. I think this is nonsense and an abuse of Bayes’ Theorem and I would like to know what others think and why.

I’ve done some reading on Bayes’ Theorem and hope to use this thread as both means and motivation to learn more about it and to expand on the OP as we go along.

Please try to keep it civil. 🙂

Thank you

## 79 thoughts on “Abusing Bayes”

1. BruceS: Yes, Siegel is reliable and his columns interesting.I try to read them all.

I think the theme of this one is that visualizations may help introduce you to a theory like GR, but to really understand it you have to do the math. (And even Einstein needed Grossman to help him with the math of GR!).

The same need to understand the math to really understand (let alone criticize!) a theory applies to QM, as I think we’ve touched on in past.

I don’t know what your children did with a pool table, but Siegel’s column would be a good way of describing the limitations of that kind of visualizations for understanding GR.

I’ll leave discussions of evolution for others and am happy to restrict my Sean stuff to physics.Here is one of his for you.You posted elsewhere about the relation between time and QM entanglement (through entropy); here Sean describes some recent work of his on how it might be that space emerges from entanglement.

Bruce,

The main point you continue to miss is that you need to visualize something first (spacetime in case of Eisenstein) and then work out the math to prove your idea. It doesn’t work the other way around. Even if you have both, it does’t necessarily mean it is right…

My kids tried to replicate the the spacetime fabric thingy by collapsing the bottom of an old pool-table and watching the ball circle around the collapsed part to the pool fabric… As you probably can guess, it didn’t work because the ball eventually rolled into the bottom of the collapsed part part of the table cloth…

To get the idea, watch the video at 20 min mark:

There has to be some force to keep the ball in the orbit… so to speak… So, no matter what math you work out, it will not keep the ball orbiting…

Obviously one could argue that gravity has to be fine-tuned to keep the ball, or planets like earth, in the orbit but just like the article indicated some scientists are very skeptical whether spacetime can be visualized as a fabric and new concepts of speacetime, the visual part at least for now, are being developed…

2. J-Mac:
Neil Rickert: Fish had descendents that were land creatures

They did? I guess that’s how the fish retained the ability of climbing out of the water… The bones the fins are attached to used to be legs of a kangaroo like land creature… so hopping out of the water for thousands of generations was a piece of cake… It’s funny how evolutionary pressures work… You don’t see much the fish climbing out of water… flying seems to be the evolutionarypreferential ability…

Stories like that gotta be true… if you choose to believe them

3. J-Mac: Bruce,

The main point you continue to miss is that you need to visualize something first (spacetime in case of Eisenstein)

I believe it was Eisenstein who proved that gravity is what makes baby carriages bump down the Odessa Steps.

My kids tried to replicate the the spacetime fabric thingy by collapsing the bottom of an old pool-table and watching the ball circle around the collapsed part to the pool fabric… As you probably can guess, it didn’t work because the ball eventually rolled into the bottom of the collapsed part part of the table cloth…

And so J-Mac explains his idea of scientific experiment. Is there any conceivable response other than pointing and laughing?

4. J-Mac: Bruce,

The main point you continue to miss is that you need to visualize something first (spacetime in case of Eisenstein)

Sorry J-Mac but I have to go along with John H on your ideas of science and their extension to falsification by YouTube video. So I guess you are outvoted, 2-1, if the election were held today. But maybe you were envisioning an electoral college for the popular vote on science that you proposed (possibly sarcastically) in another thread? Or maybe your idea was that the popular vote for science is based the Likes for a YT video?

You are right that Einstein had wonderful physical intuition, with GR coming the happiest idea of his life. But he did not publish it until he had the math. And physicists use the math to test it and to explain it and build GPS which depends on it.

Of course, if you were really talking about Sergei Eisenstein, the film director, then the visualization stuff might be more applicable.

5. BruceS: Sorry J-Mac but I have to go along with John H on your ideas of science and their extension to falsification by YouTube video. S

Oh yes! Yes! and Yes!!!
When John H falsifies at least one of his ideas, I will also go with him on that as well… 😉

Anyway, the video is based on the book by B. Greene you have recommended…
Here is the picture of what the space “time” should look like if we were actually to believe that space is 3D rather than 4D…

6. BruceS: Of course, if you were really talking about Sergei Eisenstein, the film director, then the visualization stuff might be more applicable.

🙂 That pram!

7. The most amazing thing about the scene on the Odessa Steps was that such a massacre never happened. Sergei Eisenstein was just walking on the steps and thought “in the film, we’ve just got to have a massacre here!”

(Those who don’t know the film Battleship Potemkin or the scene with the runaway pram on the great steps of Odessa can now go back to discussing relativity).

8. J-Mac: There has to be some force to keep the ball in the orbit… so to speak… So, no matter what math you work out, it will not keep the ball orbiting…

Simplistic difference , more or less friction moving through empty space that on collapsed felt covered pool table?

9. newton: Simplistic difference , more or less friction moving through emptyspace that on collapsed felt covered pool table?

Lol,
Well, in the end it is 2 teenagers trying to imagine and test something that made Einstein famous…
Afterall, spacetime, whether 3D or 4D is a mathematical construct…
It’s not really real…sort of like population genetics… 😉

10. newton: more or less friction moving through empty space t

Really? Friction moving through a mathematical construct or rather nothing? Or you meant fricken moving through nothing? lol
I think we are getting somewhere 😉

11. Anyway, the video is based on the book by B. Greene you have recommended…
Here is the picture of what the space “time” should look like if we were actually to believe that space is 3D rather than 4D…

I’m not sure I understand your point. Of course, possibly simplified versions of the math of GR can be used to produce visualizations that may help people understand the theory, if their limitations are understood (the visualizations, not the people).

But you cannot use visualizations, even if they are on pool tables, to falsify GR, which is what I thought you were doing or that your children were doing.

So maybe I missed the point on what you or your children are claiming about the pool table and GR.

12. J-Mac: Lol,
Well, in the end it is 2 teenagers trying to imagine and test something that made Einstein famous…
Afterall, spacetime, whether 3D or 4D is a mathematical construct…
It’s not really real

Many philosophers would say it is real. Yes, really. Although there may be a hole in their argument.

There is an article at SEP about what the math and theory of GR tells us and whether its version of spacetime is real. Lots of pictures, but none animated.

13. BruceS: I

But you cannot use visualizations, even if they are on pool tables, to falsifyGR, which is what I thought you were doing or that your children were doing.

Here is a case of simulated visualization that is pertinent to my point. The key is that modelers used the math and their understanding of its limited implementation in the visualization in interpreting the accuracy of the simulated results versus reality (in this case, the issue turned on modeling dark matter).:
Galaxy Simulations Matching Reality.

14. Joe Felsenstein:
The most amazing thing about the scene on the Odessa Steps was that such a massacre never happened.Sergei Eisenstein was just walking on the steps and thought “in the film, we’ve just got to have a massacre here!”

(Those who don’t know the film Battleship Potemkin or the scene with the runaway pram on the great steps of Odessa can now go back to discussing relativity).

Uh-oh. Was there really a battle on the ice as depicted in Nevsky???

15. John Harshman: I believe it was Eisenstein who proved that gravity is what makes baby carriages bump down the Odessa Steps.

reprized in Ghostbusters II.

16. J-Mac: Bruce,

The main point you continue to miss is that you need to visualize something first (spacetime in case of Eisenstein)

I believe it was Eisenstein who proved that gravity is what makes baby carriages bump down the Odessa Steps.

17. Joe Felsenstein: I believe it was Eisenstein who proved that gravity is what makes baby carriages bump down the Odessa Steps.

If Joe’s sombrero wasn’t as tight as it appears to be, he could possibly realize that one of his gods, Albert Einstein, wasn’t a god, or at least he was wrong about some fundamental things in his area of science…
Unfortunately, Joe’s limited knowledge makes him believe that whatever Einstein speculated, it is just as good as his speculations about populations genetics…
I can provide some experimental evidence that Einstein was wrong…
I don’t have to provide any evidence that Joe’s speculations are wrong… He provides the evidence himself…
ETA: Einstein couldn’t accept the possibility that time could have more than one dimension…
I’m sure Joe F and the experts in QM here will challenge that…
When you do, as you should, make sure you has some fricken evidence for your speculations because I have scientific, experimental evidence for mine… 😉

18. J-Mac: If Joe’s sombrero wasn’t as tight as it appears to be, he could possibly realize that one of his gods, Albert Einstein, wasn’t a god, or at least he was wrong about some fundamental things in his area of science…
Unfortunately, Joe’s limited knowledge makes him believe that whatever Einstein speculated, it is just as good as his speculations about populations genetics…
I can provide some experimental evidence that Einstein was wrong…
I don’t have to provide any evidence that Joe’s speculations are wrong

Go ahead. What are the dimensions of time?

19. newton: Go ahead. What are the dimensions of time?

You are not really fit to comprehend it… but for the sake others, I might reveal some clues…

What is the difference between time you are familiar with, and quantum mechanics, for example? Can you evasion the experiments that have been done that can “distinguish” the two time dimensions?

20. J-Mac: … Can you evasion the experiments that have been done that can “distinguish” the two time dimensions?

Few people can evasion the experiments as well as you can, J-Mac.

21. Fair Witness: Few people can evasion the experiments as well as you can, J-Mac.

Cut him some slack. Sure, he can’t spell, but he’s a scientific genius

22. dazz: Cut him some slack. Sure, he can’t spell, but he’s a scientific genius

Can you imagine what it would be the other way around?
Hmm…I guess you can… 😉

23. Fair Witness: Few people can evasion the experiments as well as you can, J-Mac.

It’s a point mutation… You wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t happen… apparently…
At least that’s what Joe Felsenstein proclaims… 😉
BTW: I think its easier to prove Einstein wrong that spell Joe’s last name… ;p

24. OK. Is anybody here familiar with Einstein’s wormhole idea?
While it is not the same, another time-dimension based on the equations of QM would have similar features to a wormhole theory, where spacetime folds and creates a wormhole, or a tunnel to separate points in spacetime….something like that..
Another dimension in time other then past, present and future, in QM, would be an neutral time or no time dimension, where all of the times meet, spacetime folds or collapses on itself because they don’t matter… at least on subatomic level… There is no such thing as distance either if there is no time concept on subatomic level…
A lot of supposed paradoxes could be explained by the side-time dimension, or collapsed specetime, other than forward, backward and present, but not all…
At least not yet…
I would like to see some challenges to this theory…

25. Interestingly enough, there appear to be rats who are Einsteins relative to their species.. They find wormholes in maze experiments.

This is from the Tolman paper KN cited in a different thread:

Lashley reported incidentally the case of a couple of his rats who, after having learned an alley maze, pushed back the cover near the starting box, climbed out and ran directly across the top to the goal-box where they climbed down in again and ate.

26. BruceS:
Interestingly enough, there appear to be rats who are Einsteins relative to their species..They find wormholes in maze experiments.

This is from the Tolman paper KN cited in a different thread:

Well, that was a bit of a joke. Very little bit of one, I admit. Do you really want to read about 70 year old experiments on rat’s in mazes? It does not have much to do with this thread.

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