November 9, 2012

# #1132: Frequentists vs. Bayesians

Did the sun just explode? (It’s night, so we’re not sure)

[[Two statisticians stand alongside an adorable little computer that is suspiciously similar to K-9 that speaks in Westminster typeface]]

Frequentist Statistician: This neutrino detector measures whether the sun has gone nova.

Bayesian Statistician: Then, it rolls two dice. If they both come up as six, it lies to us. Otherwise, it tells the truth.

FS: Let’s try. [[to the detector]] Detector! Has the sun gone nova?

Detector: «roll» YES.

Frequentist Statistician:

FS: The probability of this result happening by chance is 1

36=0.027. Since p< 0.05, I conclude that the sun has exploded.

Bayesian Statistician:

BS: Bet you $50 it hasn’t.