Things Behind Bayes’ Theorem. A review of Sharon Bertsch McGrayne’s The theory that would not die: How Bayes' theorem allowed to decipher the enigma code, to pursue the Russian submarines and to emerge triumphant from two centuries of controversy from a statistics education perspective.

Ernesto Alonso Sánchez Sánchez*, Nathalia Morgado, Eleazar Silvestre Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A feeling emerges from reading McGrayne’s book expressed as a paraphrase of a verse from Hamlet: There are more things behind Bayes’ theorem, Horatio, than dreamt of in your philosophy. The book tells a story of the birth and survival of an idea around which social enterprises, personal odysseys, and human passions are masterfully woven by the author. The book has 17 chapters distributed in five parts and two annexes. These parts reveal a narrative structure worthy of Propp: The hero of the story (Bayes’ theorem) is born and raised normally but rejected later. It is forced to act in secret but returns to the light and is submitted to several tests. The hero emerges triumphant from all of them. The above is just an outline of a complex but accessible chronicle that includes many brilliant and fascinating figures and extraordinary situations. We recommend the following three reviews that undoubtedly motivate you to immerse yourself in reading the book: Paulos (2011), Wainer & Savage (2012) and McGrayne (2015).
Original languageSpanish (Mexico)
Article number1
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages12
JournalThe Mathematics Enthusiast
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

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