Just heard via ISBA that the Cass Business School of City University London is changing its name to the Bayes Business School “after it was found (!) that some of Sir John Cass’s wealth was obtained through his links to the slave trade.” One of the school buildings is located on Bunhill Row, which leads to Bunhill Fields cemetery where Thomas Bayes (and Richard Price) were buried. And which stands near the Royal Statistical Society building.

“Bayes’ theorem suggests that we get closer to the truth by constantly updating our beliefs in proportion to the weight of new evidence. It is this idea – not only the person – that is the motivation behind adopting this name.”

While it is a notable recognition of the field that Thomas Bayes was selected by [some members of] the City community, I hope the name will not become a registered trademark! And ponder the relevance of naming schools, buildings, prizes, whatever after individuals who should remain mere mortals rather than carrying the larger-than-life burden of representing ideals and values. And the irony of having a business school named after someone who never worked, being financially wealthy by inheritance (from his Sheffield cutler ancestors).  Or of promoting diversity through a religious zealot leaning towards Arianism.

“In Bayes Business School, we believe we now have a name that reflects who we are and the values we hold. Even though Bayes lived a long time ago, his ideas and his name are very much connected to the future rather than the past.”

6 Responses to “Bayeswashin”

  1. Natanael Says:

    He was a religious minister. I think this is a regular job, isn’t it?

    • Not in my opinion!!!

      • Natanael Says:

        Ok … this makes me wonder why some students ask me if I (also) work or only teach!

    • Bayes was mostly supported by his family wealth and resigned from his ministry in Tunbridge Wells in 1752 for ill-health (and possibly because his Arian version of Presbyterianism did not agree with his congregation).

      • And that’s why, in part, Bayes is buried in Bunhill Fields, a resting place for Nonconformists. Others buried there: Daniel Defoe, Robert Blake, Susana Wesley, and John Bunyan.

      • Natanael Says:

        Thanks for the explanation, but I’m afraid it won’t change my students’ opinion about me (or teachers in general). Anyway, given that people like to name buildings and institutions after other people, I think Richard Price (also buried in Bunhill Fields) would be a better choice. Cheers!

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