May

9

 Insurance is sometimes mentioned in statistical books that contain a history of science chapter. A French-language stats book I keep handy mentions "Northampton lifetables" used by a life insurance company in 1763. The company employed statistician Richard Price. From the statistical point of view, the basis of how a life insurance company makes (or not!) money is quite well explained. I mention this since I often find that history of science is a didactic way (by returning to basics) of understanding concepts.

From the book:

Richard Price was also friendly with the mathematician Thomas Bayes. After Bayes's death in 1761, his relatives asked Price to examine his unpublished papers. Price realized their importance and submitted "An Essay Towards Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances" to the Royal Society. In this work, Price, using the information provided by Bayes, introduced the idea of estimating the probability of an event from the frequency of its previous occurrences.

In 1765 Price was admitted to the Royal Society for his work on probability. He also began collecting information on life expectation and in May 1770 he wrote to the Royal Society about the proper method of calculating the values of contingent reversions. It is believed that this information drew attention to the inadequate calculations on which many insurance and benefit societies had recently been formed. 

Stefan Jovanovich extends:

Richard Price was also a founding member of the Unitarian Society. The Unitarians, for all of their intellectual influence, never succeeded in attracting many members. In the UK religious census of 1851 they were found to have 37,156 adherents while the total number of Christian church members of all denominations exceeded 6 million. The same census found that 42% of the population attended no church at all. Unlike Priestly (who preached the sermon at Price's funeral) and Bentham, Price never abandoned his lifelong belief in the divinity of Christ. That put him in the position of sharing neither the views of the Catholics, Anglicans or Non-Conformists (Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, Unitarians, Congregationalists, and members of the Salvation Army) nor those of the majority view within his own minor sect. 

What I am trying to say is that Price stood apart — along with the Unitarians — in his belief that no particular ritual observance or doctrinal certainty was needed for one to be a Christian. At the same time he stood apart from his fellow Unitarians in believing that Jesus was divinely inspired by God and not merely a bright guy whose teachings should be followed. I could have put it much more simply: like his fellow Christian deist George Washington, Price was that rare creature who accepted all faiths and none without ever doubting his own. 


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