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The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal
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The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Before Pascal and Fermat's discovery of the mathematics of probability in 1654, how did we make reliable predictions? What methods in law, science, commerce, philosophy, and logic helped us to get at the truth in cases where certainty was not attainable? In this text, James Franklin examines how judges, witch inquisitors, and juries evaluated evidence; scientists weighed ...more
Hardcover, 497 pages
Published June 22nd 2001 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 2001)
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Gints Dreimanis
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you don't know about probability, you should read this book to learn about it. If you know about probability, you should read this book to learn that you are wrong.

The book is quite dense and hard to read (especially the parts about law), but it is well worth it. It is nice to know that in 21th century we are still capable of science and connecting the dots, not just minmaxing in one domain.
Linas Vepstas
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you have a formal science background, the only way in which you know "probability" is via assorted mathematical equations. If you work in AI, you try to apply those equations (or related things, like neural nets) to solve tasks. But if you work in AGI, you have to ask harder questions, like "how does one know if something is true?" and "what does it mean to know something?" and "how can I prove that this is true?" and for that, math is insufficient. The point is that courts of law use proofs ...more
Bernard M.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
There is no questioning the scholarship and thoroughness of this book. The only problem is that it truly reads like a reference book. And if it were sold as such I'd easily give it 5 stars. I'm sure I'll be referring to it many times. It does not overlook nonmathematical contributions to the "science of conjecture" and that's a big strength of the book, though it also forces the author to really cover a lot of material most wouldn't normally think of as directly related probability. The closest ...more
Taka
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, history, research
Not as entertaining or compelling a read as I expected (I'd put it down last year and picked it up again this year), but Franklin's sheer erudition is mind-blowing (his extensive, and almost exhaustive, sources include works in original Latin, Italian, German, and Spanish, for example). As the author admits, there ARE a lot of quotes, many of which could have been made less perplexing with a bit of help and orientation from the author (but then that may have gone a little against his policy of ...more
Nick Short
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
This is a great work of scholarship.

From the ancients and their ideas of credibility to not-exactly-generalizable maxims about likelihood or reasonable doubt.

Probability is the meta subject of meta subjects.
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