The Inference Fallacy From Bernoulli to Kolmogorov
AbstractBernoulli’s (1713) well-known Law of Large Numbers (LLN) establishes a legitimate one-way transition from mathematical probability to observed frequency. However, Bernoulli went one step further and abusively introduced the inverse proposition. Based on a careful analysis of Bernoulli’s original proof, this paper identifies this appealing, but illegitimate, inversion of LLN as a strong driver of confusion among probabilists. Indeed, during more than two centuries this “inference fallacy” hampered the emergence of rigorous mathematical foundations for the theory of probability. In particular, the confusion pertaining to the status of statistical inference was detrimental to both Laplace’s approach based on “equipossibility” and Mises’ approach based on “collectives”. Only Kolmogorov’s (1933) axiomatization made it possible to adequately frame statistical inference within probability theory. This paper argues that a key factor in Kolmogorov’s success has been his ability to overcome the inference fallacy.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series Working Papers CEB with number 11-006.
Length: 25 p.
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published by:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: CP114/03, 42 avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles
Phone: +32 (0)2 650.48.64
Fax: +32 (0)2 650.41.88
Web page: http://difusion.ulb.ac.be
More information through EDIRC
Probability; Bernoulli; Kolmogorov; Statistics; Law of Large Numbers;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
- B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
- C65 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Miscellaneous Mathematical Tools
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-03-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-ECM-2011-03-05 (Econometrics)
- NEP-HPE-2011-03-05 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Xavier De Scheemaekere & Ariane Szafarz, 2008.
"The special status of mathematical probability: a historical sketch,"
Working Papers CEB
08-017.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- Xavier De Scheemaekere & Ariane Szafarz, 2009. "The Special Status of Mathematical Probability: A Historical Sketch," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/95543, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Benoit Pauwels).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.