b-hebrew digest: September 02, 2000

Liz Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Mon Sep 4 00:44:35 EDT 2000

Dear Bill, 
Of course it's not supported by psychological experimentation,
because as you point out people aren't rational. It is simply
a mathematical equation. It is a model of rational decision-making.
If people *were* to be rational, this is how they would behave.
But even rational people do not change their opinions no matter
how much data they are shown if their original opionions are fixed.
This is part of the mathematics of rational decision-making.
I'm not trying to beat anyone. I'm just saying that there are rational 
ways to change one's opinion when confronted with data, but your initial
opinion cannot be so fixed that no amount of data will change it.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Rea [mailto:cctr114 at it.canterbury.ac.nz]
> Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2000 6:30 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: b-hebrew digest: September 02, 2000
> Liz wrote:-
> >There is a law of evidence called Bayes' Theorem. It says that rational
> >people, no matter
> >how disparate their original beliefs, will come to the same 
> opinion in time,
> >if given sufficient and identical evidence -- PROVIDED that they are not
> >*certain* of their original position.
> I don't think this is supported by real life experience outside the
> hard sciences like physics, chemistry, and so on. Perhaps the problem
> lies with the assumption that "rational" people exist. While people
> can reason, people are primarily emotive creatures. Another problem
> may lie with "sufficient" if people don't agree after the evidence
> is presented, you just say, "Oh, we don't have sufficient evidence yet." 
> Either way, Bayes' Theorem sounds like pointless sociological waffle
> to me. Perhaps its useful for beating people who don't agree with you!
> Bill Rea, Information Technology Dept., Canterbury  University  \_ 
> E-Mail b dot rea at it dot canterbury dot ac dot nz             </   New 
> Phone   64-3-364-2331, Fax     64-3-364-2332                   /) 
>  Zealand 
> Unix Systems Administrator                                    (/' 
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