Probability magic unmasked

Philosophy of Science 40 (2):227-233 (1973)
It has been alleged that Bayesian usage of prior probabilities allows one to obtain empirical statements on the basis of no evidence whatever. We examine this charge with reference to several examples from the literature, arguing, first, that the difference between probabilities based on weighty evidence and those based on little evidence can be drawn in terms of the variance of a distribution. Moreover, qua summaries of vague prior knowledge, prior distributions only transmit the empirical information therein contained and, therefore, their consequences for long-run frequency behavior are "a priori" in at best a Pickwickian sense
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