bayesian madness

A non-biologist friend of mine, on proofreading bits of the thesis-in-progress, got terribly excited about the program Mr Bayes.

"Mr Bayes!" she exclaimed. "That's the perfect name for a tabby cat!"

Her comments on the section where I actually described Bayesian methods in phylogenetics consisted mainly of 🙁 and >.< faces. "The words seem to be in the right order for the English language?" was her concession.

Don't blame her, obviously. I periodically beat myself over the head with my notes about Bayesian & likelihood methods; this appears to be an effective means toward keeping the information in my head. Today I found a couple more implements of self-harm at Paul Agapow's site, the first his own primer, the second a link to Peter Foster's The Idiot's Guide to the Zen of Likelihood in a Nutshell in Seven Days for Dummies. Tee hee.

So browsing the talk titles for the Evolution 2006 meeting, I came to the conclusion that biologists, especially those who dabble in phylogenetics, tend to have a very specific sense of humour. By specific, I mean "take any opportunity to make a pun, an allusion, or maximise alliteration to the point of tongue-twisting" and dude, there's nothing wrong with that. You wrap your brain around priors and posteriors and your brain wants to crack a funny. It's just the way it is.

1 thought on “bayesian madness”

  1. What was the other cat I wanted, based on words you used in your upgrade? Stochastic? I’m endlessly fascinated by the language you use in talking about language. Sometimes it takes me a few tries to wrap my brain around it, but you get me there eventually 🙂


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