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Ability to predict the future?

  1. Feb 2, 2012 #1
    Consider holding a weight in your hand, now consider if I/you release this weight I/you would reasonably assume that it will fall, depending on the weight and properties of the weight I could then make further predicitions of what will happen after it has fallen. Having made this prediction I could, with some accuracy, predict the future effects of the 'falling' event if my previous predicition were true. I would like to open this discusion by suggesting that we can accuratly predict events where we have a good knowledge of the conditions of the event also we can fairly accurately predict the events caused by this event given sufficient knowledge but the more we reley on our predictions the less accurate future ones will be.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Moved from Philosophy. Please read both sets of rules sticked in Philosophy so you understand what you can post there.
  4. Feb 2, 2012 #3


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    This is just attribution of simple foresight. We have a good model based on previous experience as to how a simple action like dropping a ball will play out. Simulating/imagining what will happen and planning is simple.

    This doesn't exactly scale however. We might be great at modelling day-to-day movements, actions of people we know etc but the more complex a system you try to model the harder it becomes to predict what will happen. This is particularly compounded by not having relevant real-time data and not having a sufficient model to predict with. With regards to large, complex issues (particularly political and social) the problems become wicked problems because we lack the basic means of even defining what it is we need to observe and how to model it.
  5. Feb 2, 2012 #4
    I think this is fairly obvious, not only in engineering but also in business where great effort is put into developing accurate business models.

    Read the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov to see your idea taken to the extreme.
  6. Feb 2, 2012 #5
    Predicting the future is what the scientific method is all about, isn't it?

    I think one should also take note of Mark Twain's version of the scientific method and predicting the future:

  7. Feb 2, 2012 #6
    I've always been able to look at a girl and tell whether.
  8. Feb 2, 2012 #7

    jim hardy

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    ""Read the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov to see your idea taken to the extreme.""

    and his short stories about "Thiotimoline", a substance that dissolves a fraction of a second before it contacts water...
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