Book ID: CBB282876128

Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science (2021)


There is a logical flaw in the statistical methods used across experimental science. This fault is not a minor academic quibble: it underlies a reproducibility crisis now threatening entire disciplines. In an increasingly statistics-reliant society, this same deeply rooted error shapes decisions in medicine, law, and public policy with profound consequences. The foundation of the problem is a misunderstanding of probability and its role in making inferences from observations.Aubrey Clayton traces the history of how statistics went astray, beginning with the groundbreaking work of the seventeenth-century mathematician Jacob Bernoulli and winding through gambling, astronomy, and genetics. Clayton recounts the feuds among rival schools of statistics, exploring the surprisingly human problems that gave rise to the discipline and the all-too-human shortcomings that derailed it. He highlights how influential nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures developed a statistical methodology they claimed was purely objective in order to silence critics of their political agendas, including eugenics.Clayton provides a clear account of the mathematics and logic of probability, conveying complex concepts accessibly for readers interested in the statistical methods that frame our understanding of the world. He contends that we need to take a Bayesian approach—that is, to incorporate prior knowledge when reasoning with incomplete information—in order to resolve the crisis. Ranging across math, philosophy, and culture, Bernoulli’s Fallacy explains why something has gone wrong with how we use data—and how to fix it.

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Authors & Contributors
Armatte, Michel
Jessica Pykett
Mark Paterson
Wong, Wing H.
Tanner, Martin A.
Serrano, David Teira
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Statistical Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Science, Technology, and Human Values
History of the Human Sciences
Johns Hopkins University Press
Probability and statistics
Data analysis
Probabilism (philosophy)
Science and religion
Bernoulli, Jakob
Bernoulli, Nikolaus
Bernoulli, family
Simpson, Thomas
Raiffa, Howard
MacLaurin, Colin
Time Periods
18th century
17th century
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
21st century
Great Britain

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