I've recently been reading Edwin Jaynes's book, Probability Theory: The Logic of Science, and I was struck by Jaynes's hostile view of what he dubs "orthodox statistics." He repeatedly claims that much of statistics is a giant mess, and argues that many commonplace statistical techniques are ad hoc devices which lack a strong theoretical footing. He blames historical giants like Karl Pearson and Ronald Fisher for the field's sorry state, and champions Bayesian methods as a healthier alternative.

From my personal perspective, his arguments make a lot of sense. However, there are a number of factors that prevent me from taking his criticism of statistics at face value. Despite the book's being published in 2003, the majority of its contents were written in the mid 20th century, making it a little dated. The field of statistics is reasonably young, and I'm willing to bet it's changed significantly since he levied his critiques.

Furthermore, I'm skeptical of how he paints statistics as having these giant methodological rifts between "frequentists" and "Bayesians." From my experience with other fields, serious methodological disagreement between professionals is almost nonexistent, and where it does exist it is often exaggerated. I'm also always skeptical of anyone who asserts that an entire field is corrupt--scientists and mathematicians are pretty intelligent people, and it's hard to believe that they were as clueless during Jaynes's lifetime as he claims.

Questions:

1. Can anyone tell me if Jaynes's criticisms of statistics were valid in the mid 20th century, and furthermore whether they are applicable to statistics in the present day? For example, do serious statisticians still refuse to assign probabilities to different hypotheses, merely because those probabilities don't correspond to any actual "frequencies?"

2. Are "frequentists" and "Bayesians" actual factions with strong disagreements about statistics, or is the conflict exaggerated?