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• ... I wonder if, in terms of probability, everyone understands these words in the same way, namely: possible = probability 0 (hence of no interest)
Message 1 of 104 , Aug 31, 2002
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> This [idea that a historical explanation will always fall into the
> world of POSSIBILITIES, and occasionally PROBABILITIES] is a cop-
> out ... Mere PLAUSIBILITY is not sufficient. We need to strive for
> ways of evaluating the relative credibility of competing
> hypotheses. (emphasis mine-MWG)

I wonder if, in terms of probability, everyone understands these
words in the same way, namely:

'possible' = probability > 0 (hence of no interest)
'probable'/'likely' = probability > 50% (of great interest)
'plausible'/'credible' = probability "significant", but < 50%

No mathematical value can be assigned to the latter category, tho
intuitively it would seem to have to be at least 10-33%. It may in
fact be only a measure of how closely a suggestion accords with
one's intuitions.

David Hindley writes:
> ... we do not have knowledge of the universe population from which
> the samples were drawn. That means we are not really working in
> the world of probabilities, but only possibilities!

I think this is a misunderstanding of "the world of probabilities".
I'd say that real-world probabilities (as opposed to artificially-
controlled test situations) are always assessed within a context of
incomplete knowledge. It's understood that the degree of probability
is relative to what we know. One of the things that enters into the
calculation is an assessment of the likelihood that further samples
would significantly differ from what is known. It's always POSSIBLE
(> 0%) that further evidence will radically alter the picture, since
the evidence available from the real world is never scientifically
selected, but that's what makes "the world of probabilities" what it
is.

Mike Grondin
Mt. Clemens, MI
• I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my question is
Message 104 of 104 , Nov 13, 2002
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I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the
discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my
question is this, how do I properly cite a web page I used information from
in an academic paper. I am a student and an interested historical Jesus
individual. I realize this is off topic so please send reply to me off the
list.

Thomas G. Barnes