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Seeing into the Future

A Short History of Prediction

Martin van Creveld



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Reaktion Books
10 August 2020
If there is anything that distinguishes us from animals, it is our ability to understand that such a thing as the future exists and our willingness to try and look into it But how have people through the ages gone about making predictions? What were their underlying assumptions, and what methods did they use? Have increased computer power and the newest algorithms improved our success in anticipating the future, or are we still only as good (or as bad) at it as our ancestors?

From the ancients watching the flight of birds to the murky activities of Google and Facebook today, Seeing into the Future provides vital insight into the past, present, and - of course - future of prediction.
By:   Martin van Creveld
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 138mm, 
ISBN:   9781789142297
ISBN 10:   1789142296
Pages:   224
Publication Date:   10 August 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Part I: A Mysterious Journey 1 A Villain of a Magician 2 In the Name of the Lord 3 Oracles, Pythias and Sibyls 4 A Dream to Remember 5 Consulting the Dead Part II: Be Sober and Reasonable 6 Searching the Heavens 7 Clear and Manifest 8 On Birds, Livers and Sacrifices 9 The Magic of Numbers 10 Decoding the Bible Part III: Enter Modernity 11 From Patterns to Cycles 12 With Hegel on the Brain 13 Ask, and You'll Be Answered 14 The Most Powerful Tools 15 War Games Here, War Games There Part IV: The Lord of the Universe 16 Looking Backward 17 Why is Prediction So Difficult? 18 Is Our Game Improving? 19 A World Without Uncertainty? References Further Reading Acknowledgements

Martin van Creveld is Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and the author of many books including Conscience: A Biography (Reaktion, 2015), Wargames: From Gladiators to Gigabytes (2013) and The Privileged Sex (2013).

Reviews for Seeing into the Future: A Short History of Prediction

Van Creveld summarizes this book by considering just how accurate these models can be, and indeed how accurate they should be. Any real ability to foresee the future is, he suggests, likely to be just as dangerous as past rulers thought they would be when they sentenced prophets and mystics to the flames or the axe! . . . This is an interesting book on a topic which we have all pondered at some time, and provides a great deal of food for thought. -- Magonia Review of Books Martin van Creveld's Seeing into the Future is a widely informed and deeply thoughtful examination of a critical area of human concern. Anyone seeking insight into the futurology and forecasting, with its manifold involvements in religion, sociology, science, and practical affairs will profit from this instructive and insightful work. --Nicholas Rescher, distinguished professor of philosophy, University of Pittsburgh What will the weather be like tomorrow, next week, next year? Will there be another war, famine, global pandemic? Will the stock market rise or fall? In Seeing into the Future, military historian and theorist Martin van Creveld provides an overview of some of the myriad methods humans have devised over the millennia to foretell what is to come, from the ancients' use of prophecy and astrology to today's mathematical algorithms. In addition to delving into when, where, why, and how those techniques originated, he discusses such questions as why prediction is so difficult, whether modern humans are any better at making predictions than our ancestors were, and whether knowing the future is a good thing. -- Physics Today

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