Inverse Probability and the 200 Year Journey to Team Bayesian

Inverse Probability and the 200 Year Journey to Team Bayesian

February 23rd at 3 pm. Presented by Jana Asher. Register in advance for this meeting:

Thomas Bayes is now famous for the development of inverse probability, which has since been renamed Bayes Theorem. However, at many points over the past 200 years, Bayes and his theorem were disparaged as “fundamentally false and devoid of
foundation.” The rise of frequentist methods in the early 20th century pushed inverse probability into the shadows, where it quietly evolved under the care of a few stalwart statisticians, until the development of fast computation allowed Bayesian methods to flourish. By the end of the 20th century, Bayesian analysis was here to stay.

This talk will explore the history of Bayes Theorem, taking us from the controversies surrounding the Bayesian interpretation of probability during the 19th and early 20th century, through the growth of Bayesian methods after World War II, into the virtual explosion of Bayesian analysis of the early 21st century. The talk is geared toward an undergraduate-level understanding of statistical methods.


Dr. Jana Asher joined the Slipper Rock University, Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2019 as a tenure track faculty member. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and Japanese Studies from Wellesley College, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Statistics from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Her research interests include questionnaire design, survey methods, record linkage, history of statistics, community-engaged education, and statistics education. She became a Fellow of the American Statistical Assocation (ASA) in 2009 and an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute in 2010. Within the ASA, she is currently a member of the Committee on International Relations and the Program Chair for the Section on Survey Research Methods.

Dr. Asher is also a Service-Learning Associate of the Office for Community-Engaged Learning at SRU. In that role, she develops better service-learning techniques and trains SRU faculty in community-engaged practice.

Outside of work, Dr. Asher is a member of the board of directors for the Pittsburgh Interfaith Evolutions Corporation (PIE), a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading interfaith understanding. PIE was formed in honor of Joyce Fienberg, a victim of the Tree of Life Massacre in 2018.