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Re: st: Bootstrapping Conf Intervals - what do they mean?

From   Maarten buis <>
Subject   Re: st: Bootstrapping Conf Intervals - what do they mean?
Date   Fri, 6 Jun 2008 15:04:42 +0100 (BST)

--- Dan Weitzenfeld <> wrote:
> Thanks all for your help and feedback.  Somehow, I managed to get
> through Advanced Statistical Methods as an undergrad totally unaware
> of the difference between Bayesian and Frequentist points of view.
> I'm definitely going to do the suggested reading.

This distinction between Bayesian and frequentist statistics touches at
the very foundation of statistics, however as a practical matter it is
much less important than you might guess (though knowledge in this area
can sometimes be useful, and it is certainly fun). In this sense I
totally agree with the following long quote below by the Bayseian
Leonard Savage (1972, p.1):

"It is often argued academically that no science can be more secure
than its foundations, and that, if there is controversy about the
foundations, there must be even greater controversy about the higher
parts of the science. As a matter of fact, the foundations are the most
controversial parts of many, if not all, sciences. Physics and pure
methematics are excellent examples of this phenomenon. As for
statistics, the foundations include, on any interpretation of which I
have ever heard, the foundations of probability, as controversial a
subject as one could name. As in other sciences, controversies over the
foundations of statistics reflect themselves to some extend in everyday
practice, but not nearly so catastrophically as one might imagine. I
believe that here, as elsewhere, catastrophe is avoided, primarily
because in practical situations common sense generally saves all but
the most pedantic of us from flagrant error. It is hard to judge,
however, to what extent the relative calm of modern statistics is due
to its domination by a vigorous school relatively well agreed within
itself about the foundations. 

Although study of the foundations of science does not have the role
that would be assigned to it by naive first-things-firstism, it has a
certain continuing importance as the science develops, influencing, and
being influenced by, the more immediately practical parts of the

Leonard J. Savage (1972 [1954]) "The foundations of statistics" New
York: Dover Publications.

-- Maarten

Maarten L. Buis
Department of Social Research Methodology
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Boelelaan 1081
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands

visiting address:
Buitenveldertselaan 3 (Metropolitan), room Z434

+31 20 5986715

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