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Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics

Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics

Edited by Frank Whelon Wayman, Paul R. Williamson, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Solomon Polachek

It is a puzzle that while academic research has increased in specialization, the important and complex problems facing humans urgently require a synthesis of understanding. This unique collaboration attempts to address such a problem by bringing together a host of prominent scholars from across the sciences to offer new insights into predicting the future. They demonstrate that long-term trends and short-term incentives need to be understood in order to adopt effective policies, or even to comprehend where we currently stand and the sort of future that awaits us.

Chapter 16: Scientific revolutions and the advancement of explanation and prediction

Frank Whelon Wayman

Subjects: economics and finance, game theory, international economics, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations, public policy


Our book, Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics (hereafter: Prediction), is intended as an example of a needed revolution in scientific thinking. This requires not only a fundamental alteration in the social sciences, since human behavior and relationships affect so much of our path into the future, but also, as we have tried to illustrate, a revolution in the way the various sciences connect themselves to each other. In this chapter I want to discuss the role of revolutionary change in science, so that we can be instructed on how best to move on from current shortcomings. I think a sound way to find guidance is to start with a view of how science in the sense of the physical sciences (and to an extent the biological sciences) has successfully developed in the past. This can give us a better perspective on how to construct an effective social science, and ideally then step toward even broader integration of the sciences predicting global conditions. The scientific revolution, which culminated in Newton’s ideas of how the planets move around the Sun, was the major intellectual accomplishment of Europeans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and was something that has long been looked upon as a great turning point in human history.

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