We Bayesian statisticians like to say there are three kinds of statisticians:
b. People who are Bayesians but don’t realize it (that is, they act in coherence with some unstated probability);
c. Failed Bayesians (that is, people whose inference could be improved by some attention to coherence).
So, if a statistician does great work, we are inclined to claim this person for the Bayesian cause, even if he or she vehemently denies any Bayesian leanings.
In his autobiography, Bertrand Russell tells the story of when he went to prison for opposing World War 1:
I [Russell] was much cheered on my arrival by the warden at the gate, who had to take particulars about me. He asked my religion, and I replied ‘agnostic.’ He asked how to spell it, and remarked with a sigh: “Well, there are many religions, but I suppose they all worship the same God.” This remark kept me cheerful for about a week.
In an op-ed today, Ross Douthat argues that celebrated atheist Christopher Hitchens actually “intuited” that there was a God:
In his very brave and very public dying, though, one could see again why so many religious people felt a kinship with him. When stripped of Marxist fairy tales and techno-utopian happy talk, rigorous atheism casts a wasting shadow over every human hope and endeavor, and leads ineluctably to the terrible conclusion of Philip Larkin’s poem “Aubade” — that “death is no different whined at than withstood.”
Officially, Hitchens’s creed was one with Larkin’s. But everything else about his life suggests that he intuited that his fellow Englishman was completely wrong to give in to despair.
I have a horrible feeling that if Bertrand Russell had supported the Vietnam war, Douthat would be enlisting him on the side of Christianity also.
P.S. Yeah, I read that Ray Monk biography too. Bertrand Russell had a lot of problems. Still, that was a great quote.