Probability and Certainty

Probability and Certainty

Probability and Certainty

Probability and Certainty

Excerpt

It is now about forty years since I published my first book on probability. Since then I have written several others, and I should not like to promise that the present one will be my last on the subject; it does, however, mark an important stage in the development of my thought.

In all my writings hitherto--and particularly in my book on chance --I adopted, with reference to those physical phenomena whose probability is extremely small, the language commonly used by physicists. The latter confine themselves to stating that it is "highly improbable" that such phenomena will occur, but they hasten to add that this is not a matter of certainty.

On reflection it seemed to me that such an attitude was not sufficiently realistic and did not take into account the whole range of our knowledge about the universe; and I arrived at the conclusion that we should not be afraid to use the word certainty to describe a probability that falls short of unity by a sufficiently small quantity. I am especially conscious of the various objections that can be made against this change of language, since I have in the past . . .

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