Why is Bayesian confirmation theory rarely practiced?

Robert W.P. Luk


Bayesian confirmation theory is a leading theory to decide the confirmation/refutation of a hypothesis based on probability calculus. While it may be much discussed in philosophy of science, is it actually practiced in terms of hypothesis testing by scientists? Since the assignment of some of the probabilities in the theory is open to debate and the risk of making the wrong decision is unknown, many scientists do not use the theory in hypothesis testing. Instead, they use alternative statistical tests that can measure the risk or the reliability in decision making, circumventing some of the theoretical problems in practice. Therefore, the theory is not very popular in hypothesis testing among scientists at present. However, there are some proponents of Bayesian hypothesis testing, and software packages are made available to accelerate utilization by scientists. Time will tell whether Bayesian confirmation theory can become both a leading theory and a widely practiced method. In addition, this theory can be used to model the (degree of) belief of scientists when testing hypotheses.


Bayesian confirmation theory; hypothesis testing; induction problem; probability modeling

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.23756/sp.v7i1.449


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