Sharon Bertsch McGrayne’s “The Theory That Would Not Die” Quotes 5

When an economist was preparing a research budget for the U.S. Air Force at RAND, a California think tank, he asked visiting statistician David Blackwell how to assess the probability that a major war would occur within five years. Blackwell, who had not yet become a Bayesian, answered, “Oh, that question just doesn’t make sense. Probability applies to a long sequence of repeatable events, and this is clearly a unique situation. The probability is either 0 or 1, but we won’t know for five years.” The economist nodded and said, “I was afraid you were going to say that. I have spoken to several other statisticians, and they have all told me the same thing.”

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