The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by SteelHead »

Gadianton wrote:I finally sat back over a couple of tacos last night and began to read the actual article.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

Book of Mormon: There shall come over the whole earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing can be seen, and the air will be laden with pestilence which will claim mainly, but not only, the enemies of religion. It will be impossible to use any man-made lighting during this darkness.

Mormon Interpreter: One example of Bayesian “strong” evidence is the remarkably detailed description of a volcanic eruption and associated earthquakes given in 3 Nephi 8. Mesoamerica is earthquake and volcano country, but upstate New York, where the Book of Mormon came forth, is not. If the Book of Mormon is fictional, how could the writer of the Book of Mormon correctly describe a volcanic eruption and earthquakes from the viewpoint of the person experiencing the event? We rate the evidentiary value of that correspondence as 0.02. We assume a piece of evidence is “unusual” if it gives facts that very probably were not known to the writer, someone living in upstate New York in the early 19th century, when virtually nothing of ancient Mesoamerica was known.

What can I say. How could he have known?


Where does the Book of Mormon mention a volcanic erruption? ............. Oh....... it doesn't? Strong correlation of an event not in the book. WINNING!
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Analytics »

Another fundamental problem is how they came up with comparing the Book of Mormon to the Mayan in the first place. Joseph Smith didn't claim to be trying to describe the Mayan. The reason the LGT folks chose that time and place is because that is where the book fits the best. The reason the story is imagined to take place in Mayan lands is because that is where things like "Large-scale public works" were located.

Joseph Smith shot a shotgun in the dark, and the apologists drew a circle around where it hit. Now Dr. Dale and Dr. Dale are pretending that is what he was aiming for and are asking "what are the odds?"

Of course that analogy isn't perfect--they didn't really hit the Mayans that much. The Book of Mormon is full of all sorts of things that are totally anachronistic in Mayan civilization (e.g. Jesus!). An honest and competent analysis would take those things into account and would ask questions like, "Assuming the Book of Mormon is a accurate translation of an ancient Mayan manuscript written on golden plates, what is the probability that we'd have no evidence of Mayans writing in Egyptian on Golden plates?" (Answer: 0.00001 or something smaller). And the companion question, "Assuming the Book of Mormon was made up, what is the probability that we'd have no evidence of Mayans writing in Egyptian on Golden plates?" (Answer: 0.999999 or something bigger).

Limiting the analysis to the mundane things that Coe put into his book was a clever trick to avoid the scores of anachronisms throughout the book that discredit it.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Analytics »

Gadianton wrote:I finally sat back over a couple of tacos last night and began to read the actual article.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

Book of Mormon: There shall come over the whole earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing can be seen, and the air will be laden with pestilence which will claim mainly, but not only, the enemies of religion. It will be impossible to use any man-made lighting during this darkness.

Mormon Interpreter: One example of Bayesian “strong” evidence is the remarkably detailed description of a volcanic eruption and associated earthquakes given in 3 Nephi 8. Mesoamerica is earthquake and volcano country, but upstate New York, where the Book of Mormon came forth, is not. If the Book of Mormon is fictional, how could the writer of the Book of Mormon correctly describe a volcanic eruption and earthquakes from the viewpoint of the person experiencing the event? We rate the evidentiary value of that correspondence as 0.02. We assume a piece of evidence is “unusual” if it gives facts that very probably were not known to the writer, someone living in upstate New York in the early 19th century, when virtually nothing of ancient Mesoamerica was known.

What can I say. How could he have known?


Are we sure Dr. Dale and Dr. Dale are real believers who really wrote this? This is the kind of article a clever anti-Mormon would write as a spoof to mock gullible Mormons who are desperate for a win.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Analytics wrote:Another fundamental problem is how they came up with comparing the Book of Mormon to the Mayan in the first place. Joseph Smith didn't claim to be trying to describe the Mayan. The reason the LGT folks chose that time and place is because that is where the book fits the best. The reason the story is imagined to take place in Mayan lands is because that is where things like "Large-scale public works" were located.

Joseph Smith shot a shotgun in the dark, and the apologists drew a circle around where it hit. Now Dr. Dale and Dr. Dale are pretending that is what he was aiming for and are asking "what are the odds?"

Of course that analogy isn't perfect--they didn't really hit the Mayans that much. The Book of Mormon is full of all sorts of things that are totally anachronistic in Mayan civilization (e.g. Jesus!). An honest and competent analysis would take those things into account and would ask questions like, "Assuming the Book of Mormon is a accurate translation of an ancient Mayan manuscript written on golden plates, what is the probability that we'd have no evidence of Mayans writing in Egyptian on Golden plates?" (Answer: 0.00001 or something smaller). And the companion question, "Assuming the Book of Mormon was made up, what is the probability that we'd have no evidence of Mayans writing in Egyptian on Golden plates?" (Answer: 0.999999 or something bigger).

Limiting the analysis to the mundane things that Coe put into his book was a clever trick to avoid the scores of anachronisms throughout the book that discredit it.


You could apply this methodology to any number of places and it would work - like the one guy who stops by from time to time and argues that the Book of Mormon took place in Malaysia. If you applied the same study, but swapped Maya lands for Malaysia and ran the numbers what happens? Bet the odds improve, as there were actually horses and silk, and metalworking in Malaysia. What does that mean about the validity of the study?
Last edited by SteelHead on Tue May 07, 2019 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

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Analytics wrote:Are we sure Dr. Dale and Dr. Dale are real believers who really wrote this? This is the kind of article a clever anti-Mormon would write as a spoof to mock gullible Mormons who are desperate for a win.

Analytics,

Let me assure that you are not the only one who has considered this possibility.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by SteelHead »

Well Carrier used Bayesian methodology to prove that Jesus isn't historical, and these Dales use it to prove the Book of Mormon is.................. Which is dependent on Jesus.......


Somebody just divided by 0.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by MrStakhanovite »

Lemmie wrote:Except that their errors are not just stylistic. The authors specifically ruled out the universal event Ω being considered by their own definitions, in fact, they stated it would be dishonest to extend their set beyond A, which they are defining and therefore limiting to a subset of the universal event that is only found in Coe's book. Moreso, they are specifying that they are only considering elements of that subset A that they consider to be true. Defining an element of subset A as true a priori, and then determining that only those true elements of subset A are being considered does NOT allow for the possibility of considering the effect of an untrue element A after the initial conditions are set, nor does it allow for ANY consideration of an element of the universal set outside of A.

They set up their parameters, Stak. If they want to expand them, they need to re-write the paper.


I got a reply by one of the authors last night and this morning on the Mormon Interpreter. I didn't see them until this afternoon:

Brian Dale wrote:I will provide more detail tomorrow (it is late here already), but we actually used the odds form of Bayes theorem for this work. I tried to be careful to use the word odds instead of probability where appropriate for that form. But you are correct that we glossed over many details. We did not feel that it would have been helpful for the intended audience. And the methodology is rather basic so a bunch of formal lemmas would have been “lipstick on a pig”.



Brian Dale wrote:Hi Alfonsy,

So the exact form that we were using is:

O(H:~H|E)=O(H:~H) * P(E|H)/P(E|~H)
where O(H:~H) is the odds of the hypothesis over not the hypothesis and the rest of the terms have their usual meaning.

The term involving the ratio of the probabilities is the likelihood ratio or Bayes factor and is the quantity that describes the strength of the evidence.

You are completely correct that P(H|E) and P(E|H) are very different things. That is indeed the whole point of Bayes theorem.


In light of these clarifications I think my inclination to try to understand their argument as an application of formal theorem was misguided, they are definitely doing their own thing here.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

Limiting the analysis to the mundane things that Coe put into his book was a clever trick to avoid the scores of anachronisms throughout the book that discredit it.


I totally agree -- I would personally word this, as I expressed earlier but didn't consider until you expressed it this way how strong the link is to coes book, as looking for mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon. This is what Brant turned to after failing to find the Book of Mormon in mesoamerica. Its a much, much lower bar, so low that i can't think of a candidate fact that would be unusual enough to count as a hit for Joseph Smith. Coes book superficially looks like using a critics own standards against him, but what it really is doing is limiting the analysis to looking for mesoamerica in the Book of Mormon. Brant even showed up at Interpreter warning all about the many controls needed to make such an analysis valid -- he does get it. Once the controls are understood, its pointless though.

Your suggestion is that we look for the book of Mormon in Mesoamerica. I agree. Im pretty sure critics would agree that if Nephi chapter 1 popped up in some random dig that theyd find it 1000 times more interesting than the combination of all suggested hits of mapping mesoamerica onto the Book of Mormon.
theres some easy computer code to show the theoretical difference also; might be fun.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by MrStakhanovite »

Brian Dale wrote:And the methodology is rather basic so a bunch of formal lemmas would have been “lipstick on a pig”.


I can't overemphasize how odious I think this attitude is. Why even bother to write a 100+ page essay in the first place?

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Everybody Wang Chung »

Wow! I just read the comments on the Interpreter's website. What a disaster of epic proportions.

Allen Wyatt just posted a comment where he is now telling people to calm down and that the Dale's research was not intended to show the that the Book of Mormon is historical, but only that Coe was wrong. Good grief!

Folks, you can't make this stuff up. I really hope that Dr. Scratch will expound on this Mopologetic massacre.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

Well, the Warriors lost last night, the series is tied up, and the next game is Wednesday!

I wanted to expand on the issue with the use of Bayesian factors I mentioned earlier. The paper notes that the method they use can also be used diagnostically to evaluate medical test results, and in fact, the factors they choose (2, 10, 50, and 1/2, 1/10, 1/50) seem to come from the medical literature where those factors are used as shortcuts to quickly approximate changes in posterior odds after tests.

( For example, see Simplifiying Likelihood Ratios )

As an example, consider getting a negative test (T-), when you could have the disease (D+) or not have the disease (D-). The likelihood ratio would be as follows:

p(T- | D+) / p(T- | D-)

The numerator is the probability that the test comes back negative when you have the disease.
The denominator is the probability the test comes back negative when you don't have the disease.

Note also that both probabilities, by definition, range from 0 to 1, inclusive.

In order for that ratio to have a value that is greater than 1, (like the 2, 10, or 50 from the article), the denominator would have to be less than 1. In other words, it must be possible that not having the disease could result in a negative test, or it could result in a positive test, such that testing negative without having the disease does not happen with a probability of 1.

Suppose the probability of getting a negative test when you have the disease is 60%. If the denominator was less than that, say 40%, then the ratio would be:

.6 / .4 = 1.5

If the denominator was equal to 1, then there is no value of the numerator (since it has to be between 0 and 1 inclusive), that would give a ratio equaling greater than 1.

Now let's apply this to the paper. Here is their definition of the likelihood ratio:

This likelihood ratio is the strength of each individual statement of fact as a piece of evidence. It is calculated as the probability that the statement is true if whoever wrote the Book of Mormon was guessing divided by the probability that the statement is true if instead the Book of Mormon is fact-based and essentially historical.


Therefore the ratio can be written as:

P(B|A) / P(B|~A),

Where A is defined in the paper as the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is fictional;
~A is the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon is not fictional.

Also from the paper:
First, the Bayes factor specifically accounts for the possibility that the evidence may have occurred under the other hypotheses. This is accomplished in the denominator of the Bayes factor.

This is like the diagnostic ratio, in that the authors are saying that elements B (like T-) could occur if the Book of Mormon is fictional (like D+), or elements B could occur if it is historical (like D-)

Now we come to the problem.

For the authors to use this likelihood ratio, they must consider elements B that have the same properties as the T-, or negative test. In other words they need to test elements B that are both factual and nonfactual.

For example, elements B could be every statement in the Book of Mormon, both those known as factual, those known as nonfactual, those not known if they are either, etc. Every element needs to be part of the experiment.


Instead, the authors limit their testing to only 131 pieces of evidence, which they define as true statements of fact. From the paper:

 If the Book of Mormon is fiction, then its author was guessing every time he wrote as fact something about the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.

This means we can compare reasonably these “guesses” in the Book of Mormon with the facts presented by Dr. Coe in The Maya.
[bolding added]

If we compare this back to the medical testing, that would be like saying they are only considering negative tests results that occur when a person actually did not have the disease.

It would be like not considering the possibility that negative tests occur when the person has the disease, such that

p(T- | D-)

always equals 1.


Or in the case of the paper, the authors are picking out only elements B that correspond to factual elements B in The Maya. This means that the denominator of their likelihood ratio;

P(B | ~A)

is the probability that a factual statement is a fact, given that Book of Mormon factual statements are facts.

It will always be 1, by virtue of limiting the analysis to elements B that will always be facts that would correspond to facts if the Book of Mormon were factual.

Therefore their testing will always favor their hypothesis (~A) that the Book of Mormon is NOT fiction. Even in the few cases where they assign a ratio value of 2, 10, or 50, they are doing so by violating their own definitions.


Throughout the thread, several people have commented about issues such as limiting the scope to the 131 facts is biased, or that additional elements from the Book of Mormon should have been considered, or that the assigning of ratio values is skewed. These issues are all related to this mis-use of Bayesian factors.

In my opinion, this paper has severely mis-applied the concept of using likelihood ratios based upon Bayesian principles to update probabilities.
Last edited by Lemmie on Tue May 07, 2019 1:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by SteelHead »

Garbage In - Garbage Out.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

Analytics wrote:Limiting the analysis to the mundane things that Coe put into his book was a clever trick to avoid the scores of anachronisms throughout the book that discredit it.
Exactly my point also! Well said, Analytics.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Dr Exiled »

SteelHead wrote:Garbage In - Garbage Out.


Garbage is all these a-holes have.
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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

MrStakhanovite wrote:
Lemmie wrote:Except that their errors are not just stylistic. The authors specifically ruled out the universal event Ω being considered by their own definitions, in fact, they stated it would be dishonest to extend their set beyond A, which they are defining and therefore limiting to a subset of the universal event that is only found in Coe's book. Moreso, they are specifying that they are only considering elements of that subset A that they consider to be true. Defining an element of subset A as true a priori, and then determining that only those true elements of subset A are being considered does NOT allow for the possibility of considering the effect of an untrue element A after the initial conditions are set, nor does it allow for ANY consideration of an element of the universal set outside of A.

They set up their parameters, Stak. If they want to expand them, they need to re-write the paper.


I got a reply by one of the authors last night and this morning on the Mormon Interpreter. I didn't see them until this afternoon:

Brian Dale wrote:I will provide more detail tomorrow (it is late here already), but we actually used the odds form of Bayes theorem for this work. I tried to be careful to use the word odds instead of probability where appropriate for that form. But you are correct that we glossed over many details. We did not feel that it would have been helpful for the intended audience. And the methodology is rather basic so a bunch of formal lemmas would have been “lipstick on a pig”.



Brian Dale wrote:Hi Alfonsy,

So the exact form that we were using is:

O(H:~H|E)=O(H:~H) * P(E|H)/P(E|~H)
where O(H:~H) is the odds of the hypothesis over not the hypothesis and the rest of the terms have their usual meaning.

The term involving the ratio of the probabilities is the likelihood ratio or Bayes factor and is the quantity that describes the strength of the evidence.

You are completely correct that P(H|E) and P(E|H) are very different things. That is indeed the whole point of Bayes theorem.


In light of these clarifications I think my inclination to try to understand their argument as an application of formal theorem was misguided, they are definitely doing their own thing here.

:lol: I would have to agree, stak, it is definitely their own thing.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

Everybody Wang Chung wrote:Wow! I just read the comments on the Interpreter's website. What a disaster of epic proportions.

Allen Wyatt just posted a comment where he is now telling people to calm down and that the Dale's research was not intended to show the that the Book of Mormon is historical, but only that Coe was wrong. Good grief!

Folks, you can't make this stuff up. I really hope that Dr. Scratch will expound on this Mopologetic massacre.

Wow. Wyatt is backing way off the original position:
In case you miss it, this is an important point: The paper starts with what Coe claims about the Maya, not what the Book of Mormon claims or what Joseph Smith may have claimed.

The paper isn’t focused on “proving” the Book of Mormon. It is focused on showing that Coe cannot be correct if he states (as he has) that it is impossible for the Book of Mormon to have been situated in a Mesoamerican setting.

What comes from the whole analysis is that (1) Coe is mistaken and (2) the author of the Book of Mormon got a lot of stuff right that it should have been impossible to get right.

The point of the paper is to disprove Coe’s assertions, not to prove the Book of Mormon. (See the Summary on page 96. There is nothing there about proving the Book of Mormon.)
Here is the last sentence of the summary on page 96:
The cumulative weight of these correspondences, analyzed using Bayesian statistics, provides overwhelming support for the historicity of the Book of Mormon as an authentic, factual record set in ancient Mesoamerica.

And here is the last paragraph just prior to the summary on page 96:
We prefer a more rational, more intellectually honest conclusion: The Book of Mormon is a real historical record. It is authentic.

And Wyatt, again:
The point of the paper is to disprove Coe’s assertions, not to prove the Book of Mormon.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Gadianton »

Res Ipsa: One other thing, the authors conclude that the odds of the Book of Mormon not being a history of the Mayans are orders of magnitude less than less than me being killed by a meteorite.

somebody find this and screenshot it before they destroy the evidence

(i don't have a quote key right now, not in a good research spot)
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Morley »

This has turned into a really sweet thread.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Lemmie »

More Wyatt:
Your entire issue with the Dales’ analysis seems to boil down to “they picked their evidences and therefore their evidences cannot be taken at face value.” If I am distilling your argument correctly, that sounds like a textbook definition of cherry picking, which the Dales address in their paper.


Yes, they did:
It is a common error (deliberate or otherwise) to consider only a few pieces of evidence when examining the truth or falsity of a given hypothesis. In the extreme, this practice is called cherry-picking. In cherry-picking, evidence against one’s existing hypothesis is deliberately excluded from consideration. This practice is, of course, dishonest. It is another common error to consider some pieces of relevant evidence as having infinite weight or having zero weight compared to other pieces of evidence. This practice is irrational and unscientific.

These practices of cherry-picking or overweighting/underweighting evidence cannot be allowed in scientific enquiry. They are neither rational nor honest. We must consider all relevant evidence if we hope to make honest, rational decisions.
https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/josep ... -the-maya/


So, in support of their overall conclusion that the Book of Mormon is NOT fictional, but is a true historical record, the authors decided to only compare statements from ONE source, Dr. Coe's book, with the Book of Mormon:
Again, it is only rational and honest to compare statements of fact which are dealt with by both books.


That is exactly what cherry-picking is.

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by DrW »

Got a kick out of the following quotes and comment over on the Interpreter website re: the Dale & Dale paper:
______________________________________________

"The Dales aren’t using “the Bayes Theorem to show a historical Book of Mormon.” You have misunderstood the purpose of their paper.

-Allen (Wyatt)

"The point of the paper is to disprove Coe’s assertions, not to prove the Book of Mormon."

-Allen (Wyatt)


Then:

"The overall weight of the evidence is just overwhelming: the Book of Mormon is historical."

Best wishes,
Bruce (Dale)


Finally:

"Someone needs to get their story straight."

Best wishes,
Arc (Angel? Welder?)

__________________________________

Pretty much sums up the disaster unfolding over there.
----------------

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Re: The Interpreter; Bayes Theorem; Nephites and Mayans

Post by Res Ipsa »

Gadianton wrote:Res Ipsa: One other thing, the authors conclude that the odds of the Book of Mormon not being a history of the Mayans are orders of magnitude less than less than me being killed by a meteorite.

somebody find this and screenshot it before they destroy the evidence

(i don't have a quote key right now, not in a good research spot)


Here’s the money quote, Dean Robbers:

Just how small a number is this? No easily grasped comparisons are possible. The mass of the smallest known particle, the neutrino, is about 10–36 kg, while the mass of the observable universe is about 1052 kg. Thus the ratio of the mass of the neutrino to the mass of the entire universe is approximately 10–88. This ratio, the mass of the neutrino to the mass of the universe, is still one hundred thousand, billion, billion times greater than the odds that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction.
​“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

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