Open Access
May 2020 Laplace’s Theories of Cognitive Illusions, Heuristics and Biases
Joshua B. Miller, Andrew Gelman
Statist. Sci. 35(2): 159-170 (May 2020). DOI: 10.1214/19-STS696


In his book from the early 1800s, Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilités, the mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace anticipated many ideas developed within the past 50 years in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, explaining human tendencies to deviate from norms of rationality in the presence of probability and uncertainty. A look at Laplace’s theories and reasoning is striking, both in how modern they seem, how much progress he made without the benefit of systematic experimentation, and the novelty of a few of his unexplored conjectures. We argue that this work points to these theories being more fundamental and less contingent on recent experimental findings than we might have thought.


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Joshua B. Miller. Andrew Gelman. "Laplace’s Theories of Cognitive Illusions, Heuristics and Biases." Statist. Sci. 35 (2) 159 - 170, May 2020.


Published: May 2020
First available in Project Euclid: 3 June 2020

MathSciNet: MR4106596
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/19-STS696

Rights: Copyright © 2020 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.35 • No. 2 • May 2020
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