On the Dangers of Modelling through Continuous Distributions: A Bayesian Perspective

C. Fernández, M.F.J. Steel

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We point out that Bayesian inference on the basis of a given sample is not always possible with continuous sampling models, even under a proper prior. The reason for this paradoxical situation is explained, and its empirical relevance is linked to coarse gathering of data, such as rounding. A solution, inspired by the way observations are recorded, is proposed. Use of a Gibbs sampler makes the solution practically feasible. The case of independent sampling from (possibly skewed) scale mixtures of Normals is analysed in detail for a location-scale model with a commonly used noninformative prior. For Student-t sampling with unrestricted degrees of freedom the \usual" inference, based on point observations, is shown to be precluded whenever the sample contains repeated observations. We show that Bayesian inference based on set observations, however, is possible and illustrate this by an application to a skewed data set of stock returns.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • Coarse data
  • posterior existence
  • location-scale model
  • rounding
  • scale mixtures of normals
  • skewness
  • student-t


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