Jun 11, 2016

Probability and Intuition

I like how they characterize probability theory (emphasis added):
Probability provides a way of summarizing the uncertainty that comes from our laziness and ignorance
—Russell & Norvig (2010, p482)
By laziness, they mean that “It is too much work to list the complete set of antecedents or consequents needed to ensure an exceptionless rule and too hard to use such rules.” I see intuition in a similar way. Especially in some part of academia, where mathematical formalization is pursued, the term tends to be used quite often and loosely. It looks like we implicitly acknowledge our ignorance and the fact that it would be too costly to make every single logic rigorous. Isn't this ironic? I have, in particular, economists in mind, who tend to dismiss narrative approaches in social science. With a bit of introspection, economists should be more humble and try to appreciate “intuitive” science.