I’ve got an urge to write another introductory tutorial for the Python MCMC package PyMC. This time, I say enough to the comfortable realm of Markov Chains for their own sake. In this tutorial, I’ll test the waters of Bayesian probability.

Tom Bayes

Now, what better problem to stick my toe in than the one that inspired Reverend Thomas in the first place? Let’s talk about *sex ratio*. This is also convenient, because I can crib from Bayesian Data Analysis, that book Rif recommended me a month ago.

Bayes started this enterprise off with a question that has inspired many an evolutionary biologist: are girl children as likely as boy children? Or are they more likely or less likely? Laplace wondered this also, and in his time and place (from 1745 to 1770 in Paris) there were birth records of 241,945 girls and 251,527 boys. In the USA in 2005, the vital registration system recorded 2,118,982 male and 2,019,367 female live births [1]. I’ll set up a Bayesian model of this, and ask PyMC if the sex ratio could really be 1.0.

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