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June 24 , 2008

The Science of Conjecture

Evidence and Probability before Pascal


How did we make reliable predictions before Pascal and Fermat's discovery of the mathematics of probability in 1654? What methods in law, science, commerce, philosophy, and logic helped us to get at the truth in cases where certainty was not attainable? In The Science of Conjecture, James Franklin examines how judges, witch inquisitors, and juries evaluated evidence; how scientists weighed reasons for and against scientific theories; and how merchants counted shipwrecks to determine insurance rates.

The Science of Conjecture provides a history of rational methods of dealing with uncertainty and explores the coming to consciousness of the human understanding of risk.

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