Posts Tagged ‘Victor Stenger’

Probability of God

August 28, 2010

Sigh.

Apparently if you go beyond the Amazon preview, Unwin just makes up some numbers, plugs them into the Bayesian machine, and — poof! — calculates the probability he wants for God’s existence, 2/3 (which he later ups to 95%).

Doing this with numbers I agree with yields a probability more like 10^−17.  That sounds really low but I guess the point is, when you make up lots of numbers, you can reach any conclusion you want.

Essentially, Unwin made up an arbitrary number of points to assign to various evidence for/against God, and then also made up what the evidence said about those criteria.

For example, the existence of human moral evil is evidence against God, and he says that current levels of moral evil militate for odds of 2:1 against God (while current levels of moral good militate for 1:10 for God).  My response, in two words:  genocide and … ?

My question coming out of this is:  are quants unscientific?  Unwin was a quant and got hired for primo positions.

Also, dumb assertion in Wilmott:  Mao, Hitler, and Stalin were all half-educated — to the point of charisma but not to the point where they realize “the madness and helplessness of it all”.  The author’s solution?  ”Managing society requires the world to embrace randomness.” (sic)  That itself sounds half-educated to me — like somebody who treats randomness and risk as an epsilon symbol.

So are the quants like some mathematically sophisticated quasi-skeptics who really believe in magic?