The Scientific Method Versus Faith

61 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2020 Last revised: 12 Feb 2021

See all articles by Rajeev R. Bhattacharya

Rajeev R. Bhattacharya

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Finance Department; Washington Finance and Economics

Date Written: February 11, 2021


"If you toss a coin seven times, and all tosses come up heads, what is the probability of the eighth toss also turning up head?" I show that the answer depends on how sure one is about the prior valuation of the probability that the coin is fair. I extend the analysis to valuation of the probability of gender-neutrality of birth on the basis of the observed number of female and male births, using Bayes Theorem. I prove that updating one's valuations on the basis of new information is scientific, and since the criterion of falsifiability is essential to a scientific theory, that faith or dogma consists of a degenerate prior whereas the scientific method requires a non-degenerate prior.

Keywords: Uncertainty; Coin Tosses; Gender Proportions; Bayes Theorem; Non-Degenerate Prior; Degenerate Prior; Falsifiability; Scientific Method; Faith.

JEL Classification: B4; C6; D8

Suggested Citation

Bhattacharya, Rajeev, The Scientific Method Versus Faith (February 11, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Rajeev Bhattacharya (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University (SMU) - Finance Department ( email )

United States

Washington Finance and Economics ( email )

United States


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