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    Predictability and probability

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    I have distinguished social and natural sciences on the principle that natural science, such as physics or chemistry, predict events with great reliability--virtually always. We know that two chemicals will combine to form the same compound every time, etc. On the other hand, social sciences (so-called?) are "soft sciences" in the sense that what a society does is not so predictable. (Who predicted the uprising in Egypt would come just now, by the sequence of events that actually occured, so quickly? (Nobody.)

    What do you say is the meaning of probable events as opposed to predictable events? If I say a candidate will get 60% of the votes, we know what that means; but what if I say the odds are 60% that he or she will win? In that case I am right (or not?) whether the candidate wins or not... how is that a prediction? What are the problems of predicting statistical correlations in society? (For instance, at work: Someone might predict the likelihood that the workers will react a certain way, if they are 80% high school graduates, or another way if they are 80% college graduates--or 80% Evangelical Christians?

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    Solution Preview

    The hard sciences, such as physics, have as their goal a type of mathematical predictability, which is impossible in the social sciences. What might be interesting would be to consider the continuum from the laws of physics-which are, for the most part, consistent and predictable (the laws of planetary motion can predictably tell you where Mars will be in the sky tomorrow night) through sciences like Weather and Climate Science, which deal with some level of unpredictability, but are still able to achieve fairly accurate short term predictability, to the social sciences, which give models that help explain behaviour, but do not give us much ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution provides a discussion on the topic of probable and predictable events as it relates to the sciences and rational thinking.

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