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39 votes
Accepted

Why would infinite monkeys not produce the works of Shakespeare?

Yes, the monkeys will do it. No, they don't have to. It's mathematically true that after removing all logistical constraints - which is what we mean when we say there are infinitely many monkeys, ...
Zayn's user avatar
  • 640
33 votes

Is the SETI project built on false premises?

Scientists use statistical significance measures all the time, discussed here: How improbable does an event have to be before we can say it didn't happen by chance? "Life occurring on earth ...
CriglCragl's user avatar
  • 22.3k
29 votes

Is this a statistical argument for reincarnation being almost inevitable?

The specific statistical error you're probably intuiting is that your sample is not representative. Even if you are non-existent for a million years, and existent only for a day, there's a 100% ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 30.4k
24 votes

Does Bayesianism give an out for pseudoscience that it shouldn’t deserve?

The first issue is that the presented hypothesis is actually two hypotheses. While the sentence "Adam can guess, using psychic powers, what the price of each stock in the world will be at the end ...
minnmass's user avatar
  • 401
19 votes

Isn’t everything absurdly improbable?

The probability of getting 100 straight heads is the same as any other sequence, yet the other sequences aren’t seen as improbable. Yes they are, if you put a piece of paper in a sealed envelope ...
Graham's user avatar
  • 2,360
19 votes

The implication if we discovered that natural abiogenesis is statistically nearly impossible

If, and it's a big if, it could be proved that the probability of the emergence of life through natural causes was exceedingly close to zero, then you could still assume life emerged by chance. Before ...
Marco Ocram's user avatar
  • 23.6k
16 votes

Isn’t everything absurdly improbable?

Isn’t every event by definition improbable in the sense that each event precedes an infinite series of causes that could have (theoretically atleast) been different? Specific events don't have ...
g s's user avatar
  • 6,325
15 votes
Accepted

What is a philosophical interpretation of Bayes’s theorem when one of the probabilities is zero?

Bayes' Theoreom has P(E) != 0 as one of its pre-conditions. As with any other theorem, if any of the premises is not true you cannot validily deduce the conclusion. So the math thing to say is not &...
JonathanZ's user avatar
  • 531
15 votes

Should the evidence of OBEs and NDEs increase our epistemic probability of non-physicalist views of consciousness?

Near death experiences seem to largely be culturally and theologically neutral, and when they'renot they match the beliefs of the person having them, which suggests to me it's an entirely ...
TKoL's user avatar
  • 3,462
15 votes

Does the "Sniper Firing Squad" analogy undermine the anthropic principle’s objection to the fine-tuning argument for God's existence?

To me, a more accurate "sniper analogy" for fine-tuning would be: You run between 2 points of cover in a heavy firefight. There was probably hundred bullets hitting somewhat near you without ...
NotThatGuy's user avatar
14 votes

The implication if we discovered that natural abiogenesis is statistically nearly impossible

[This is a complete rewrite of my answer.] If I understand you're question, you're presuming that we somehow determine that the chance of all the conditions necessary to result in intelligent life is ...
Barmar's user avatar
  • 1,808
13 votes

Should X, if there’s no evidence for X, be given a non zero probability?

You mention Bayesians, so I'll reply in that context. The Bayesian framework is (roughly) a way to take a "prior probability" of a statement, multiply it by a factor accounting for new ...
R.M.'s user avatar
  • 1,291
12 votes

How Probable is the Philosophical Significance of Numerical Patterns in Religious Texts?

Apophenia describes (among other things) the human propensity to see questionable patterns in random data. That, in a nutshell, is what basically all of numerology is. The basic process tends to go ...
NotThatGuy's user avatar
11 votes

Isn’t everything absurdly improbable?

Yes, it's extremely improbable for practically anything to happen in the exact manner that it does. You are correct. But then what do you do with that information? So it was very improbable for those ...
causative's user avatar
  • 14.4k
10 votes

Is the SETI project built on false premises?

Let's focus on this part of the question: "On what basis can we ever say, even if this pattern was detected, that this was generated by intelligent lifeforms outside earth?" Bayesian ...
Scott McPeak's user avatar
10 votes

What is a philosophical interpretation of Bayes’s theorem when one of the probabilities is zero?

I expect that philosophy cannot say more about the case from the OP’s question than stochastics can say: If the event E has probability zero to happen, then stochastics cannot derive a probability ...
Jo Wehler's user avatar
  • 33.7k
10 votes

The implication if we discovered that natural abiogenesis is statistically nearly impossible

It's perfect valid to say that something being near-impossible doesn't say much about other possibilities, unless you have some independent insight into how likely those possibilities are. Of course, ...
NotThatGuy's user avatar
9 votes

Should the evidence of OBEs and NDEs increase our epistemic probability of non-physicalist views of consciousness?

I'll go ahead and say it. Yes, reports of out of body experiences and near death experiences make non-physicalist views of consciousness more likely than they otherwise would be. However this does not ...
causative's user avatar
  • 14.4k
9 votes

What is the probability difference of an event that has one chance vs. multiple chances to happen?

The two examples, coin and Lincoln rock, use two different concepts of probability. The coin example knows the probability 1/2 for the head of a fair coin. Accordingly it computes the probability of ...
Jo Wehler's user avatar
  • 33.7k
8 votes

Isn’t everything absurdly improbable?

This kind of problem arises when there is an attempt to apply probability to the real world. The theory of probability is about precise sample spaces and probabilities and events. The real world, on ...
Daniel Asimov's user avatar
8 votes

Can we fully expunge the notion of probability from philosophy?

Probability is an extremely useful concept, both within science and within epistemology and there is no good reason to want to expunge it. Most of your complaints about it are based on ...
Bumble's user avatar
  • 26.4k
8 votes

Is this a statistical argument for reincarnation being almost inevitable?

This looks like just another form of the lottery paradox. Suppose x buys one lottery ticket and there are a million other tickets. It is rational to believe that x will not win the lottery, yet it is ...
David Gudeman's user avatar
8 votes

Is this a statistical argument for reincarnation being almost inevitable?

You are making the faulty assumption that if a event A is more likely under circumstance X than under circumstance Y, then circumstance X is more likely than circumstance Y if A has happened. Suppose ...
Marco Ocram's user avatar
  • 23.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Should the evidence of OBEs and NDEs increase our epistemic probability of non-physicalist views of consciousness?

Very Short Answer Yes. Both physicalist and non-physicalist models of consciousness are testable in principle, and every observation that is compatible/predictable from the perspective of one of ...
Dcleve's user avatar
  • 14.6k
8 votes

Does the "Sniper Firing Squad" analogy undermine the anthropic principle’s objection to the fine-tuning argument for God's existence?

The fact that the odds, P, of the criminal being missed was one preceded by 20,000 zeros does not make it more likely that some other cause was at play. In particular, it does not mean that the ...
Marco Ocram's user avatar
  • 23.6k
8 votes

Is probability physical or idealistic? Is probability an inherent part of nature/reality?

It is both physical and idealistic. For example, if a dice is rolled repeatedly, on average each number will come up around a sixth of the time. That tendency is physical. The language of probability ...
Marco Ocram's user avatar
  • 23.6k
7 votes

Isn’t everything absurdly improbable?

The questions you need to ask are "improbable given what?", and "improable relative to what?" Suppose I flip a coin. The probability that it will be heads, is 0.5. Suppose I flip ...
Ray's user avatar
  • 1,362
7 votes

Can we fully expunge the notion of probability from philosophy?

No, probability is a foundational concept in philosophy. But not only that: it is an essential concept of language. Every sentence about the future is essentially an statement of probability: "he ...
RodolfoAP's user avatar
  • 7,661
7 votes

Does Bayesianism give an out for pseudoscience that it shouldn’t deserve?

This seems to be less about Bayesian probability analysis and more about forming testable hypotheses. If we limit your hypothesis to "Adam knows the closing stock prices ahead of time.", ...
jpa's user avatar
  • 643
6 votes

Can we fully expunge the notion of probability from philosophy?

You are right to protest at the casual use of "by chance" that treats chance as some kind of quasi-cause and to insist that probability is a substitute for accurate and complete knowledge. ...
Ludwig V's user avatar
  • 2,888

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