Hi–I’ve been talking with various journalists about Stan and coronavirus, Stan and election polling, etc., and I have conversations that go like this:
Q: What is Stan?
A: It’s a computer program that does Bayesian inference?
A: So, you have a model that you are fitting to data, the model has parameters . . .
Q: What’s a parameter?
When I talk about any particular application, it’s all fine, I can talk about public opinion and urns with black and white balls, or I can talk about infection fatality rate etc., or whatever, and that’s all fine. But when I start to speak more generally, it’s too much for non-technical reporters who have not heard of parameters or propagation of uncertainty or any of our other favorite concepts.
Also, then the reporter asked, What is Stan? When was it created? Etc. Again, I did not have a pithy answer.
This gets back to something that’s come up before, that it would be good to have a What is Stan? page with different answers that will be targeted to people with different levels of technical knowledge.