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The Odds, Continually Updated

Sep 30, 2014 - The New York Times

Statistics may not sound like the most heroic of pursuits. But if not for statisticians, a Long Island fisherman might have died in the Atlantic Ocean after falling off his boat early one morning last summer.

The man owes his life to a once obscure field known as Bayesian statistics -- a set of mathematical rules for using new data to continuously update beliefs or existing knowledge.

The method was invented in the 18th century by an English Presbyterian minister named Thomas Bayes -...