Sunday, May 18, 2008
Randomness and Reason
This past term, it fell to me to teach the perennial service course in statistics at Bennington College. In addition to covering various standard topics (descriptive statistics, significance testing, correlations, etc.), I spent a great deal of time with my beginning students on the theme of probabilistic reasoning based on evidence, as codified by Bayes's Theorem. I needed to do this if we were going to enter the richly confusing space between randomness and reason appropriately armed. I have assembled some of the most informal of the course lectures here. By way of apology for the overall state of things, I confess that during a busy term I struck off some of these mini-essays during the wee hours of the morning before class. (I thank my students for giving me a lot of room to experiment and improvise during the semester.) The lectures are collected with the vague idea that I might fix them up at some point in the future. Any comments are therefore very welcome.