HCOL 196, January 19, 2011

Today we introduced ourselves, and then discussed probability in the context of a little coin toss experiment. We distinguished between two ideas of probability, and in particular the Bayesian idea that probability can be used to encode your uncertainty about some proposition, even if the proposition is perfectly definite (as after the coin is tossed or asking about the length of the Nile river). We noted that people’s probability assessments can be different if they have different background information. We write

P(some proposition|background information)

which reads “the probability that the proposition is true, given the known background information).

We saw that if background information changes, so will the probabilities. This is shown by our blackboard at the end of class:

I should have used a darker marker!

Reading: Start reading “Why Flip a Coin?” (“Flip”), Chapters 1-3. Also, start reading “Calculated Risks,” Chapters 1-2.

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