# Natural frequencies instead of Bayes

Steven Strogatz has a column up on why it’s easier to think about natural frequencies rather than conditional probabilities.

## 6 thoughts on “Natural frequencies instead of Bayes”

1. Ram says:

Great column!

I am a bit ticked by this column. I think that using the formula for conditional probability or computing frequencies as explained in the column are exactly the same thing. The difference is that the former applies a memorized formula without understanding it whereas the latter basically “derives” that formula every time a computation is needed. To claim that those are intrinsically different methods, or to discuss whether one is more valid than the other, shows a lack of understanding of what mathematics is.

• I don’t think it’s a question of *mathematical* validity — you get the same number at the end. As a student, it may be more valuable to rederive the formula each time until you develop the intuition as to why it is true.

I remember learning how to square numbers by playing with grids of squares (10×10, 1×10, etc) and developing a geometric feeling for why (a + b)^2 = a^2 + 2ab + b^2. It’s not a more or less valid way for learning that formula, but the abstraction was easier to understand moving from physical manipulations to mental manipulations rather than the reverse.