Today, and let us celebrate this fact, We can eat the light of our beloved, warmed by compassion or cooled by intellectual feeling. And if we are surprised, and some of us disappointed, that the light is now only green - well, such was the vital probability awaiting us. We have, after all, an increase in the energy available for further evolution; we can use the energy of our position relative to the probabilities in the future to reach the future we desire. The full use of this energy is just beginning to be explored, and we have the opportunity open to few generations to create our best opportunities. We must not slacken in our desire now if we desire a future. The pressure of probabilities on the present increases the momentum of evolution, and as the voluble helix turns, and turns us away from our improbable satiation, we can see that the shadow cast on the present from the future is not black but rainbowed, brilliant with lemon yellow, plum-purple, and cherry-red. I have no patience with those who say that their desire for light is satisfied. Or that they are bored. I have myself a still unsatisfied appetite for green: eucalyptus, celadon, tourmaline, and apple. ("Desire")
William S. Wilson
Certainty is not biologically possible. We must learn (and teach our children) to tolerate the unpleasantness of uncertainty. Science has given us the language and tools of probabilities. We have methods for analyzing and ranking opinion according to their likelihood of correctness. That is enough.
Robert A. Burton
The possibilities and probabilities are all we have to work with in medicine, though. What we are drawn to in this imperfect science, what we in fact covet in our way, is the alterable moment-the fragile but crystalline opportunity for one's know-how, ability, or just gut instinct to change the course of another's life for the better.
The art of drawing conclusions from experiments and observations consists in evaluating probabilities and in estimating whether they are sufficiently great or numerous enough to constitute proofs. This kind of calculation is more complicated and more difficult than it is commonly thought to be. . . .
Do not personally give any more conscious consideration, either of you, to events that you do not want to happen. Any such concentration, to whatever degree, ties you in with those probabilities, so concentrate upon what you want, and as far as public events are concerned, take it for granted that sometimes even men are wiser than they know.
Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle... Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some such way as this. Divide his paper into four chapters, heading the 1st, Truths. 2d, Probabilities. 3d, Possibilities. 4th, Lies. The first chapter would be very short.
Does the logic connect? What are the range of probably outcomes? You want to figure out what those probabilities are and ideally be the House. It's fine to gamble, as long as you're the House. Also, listen to critical feedback, particularly from friends. Generally they will be thinking it but they won't tell you
People dont realize that we cannot forecast the future. What we can do is have probabilities of what causes what, but thats as far as we go. And Ive had a very successful career as a forecaster, starting in 1948 forward. The number of mistakes I have made are just awesome. There is no number large enough to account for that.
Results rarely specify their causes unambiguously. If we have no direct evidence of fossils or human chronicles, if we are forced to infer a process only from its modern results, then we are usually stymied or reduced to speculation about probabilities. For many roads lead to almost any Rome.
Stephen Jay Gould
I am fully assured, that no general method for the solution of questions in the theory of probabilities can be established which does not explicitly recognize, not only the special numerical bases of the science, but also those universal laws of thought which are the basis of all reasoning, and which, whatever they may be as to their essence, are at least mathematical as to their form.
The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed, the probabilities are that the more insincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it will not be coloured by either his wants, his desires, or his prejudices.
Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits-a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.
John Maynard Keynes
First, the only certainty is that there is no certainty. Second, every decision as a consequence is a matter of weighing probabilities. Third, despite uncertainty we must decide and we must act. And lastly we need to judge decisions not only on the results, but how those decisions were made.
The stone that Dr. Johnson once kicked to demonstrate the reality of matter has become dissipated in a diffuse distribution of mathematical probabilities. The ladder that Descartes, Galileo, Newton, and Leibniz erected in order to scale the heavens rests upon a continually shifting, unstable foundation.
We know the laws of trial and error, of large numbers and probabilities. We know that these laws are part of the mathematical and mechanical fabric of the universe, and that they are also at play in biological processes. But, in the name of the experimental method and out of our poor knowledge, are we really entitled to claim that everything happens by chance, to the exclusion of all other possibilities?
Following Korzybski , I put things in probabilities, not absolutes ... My only originality lies in applying this zetetic attitude outside the hardest of the hard sciences, physics , to softer sciences and then to non-sciences like politics , ideology , jury verdicts and, of course, conspiracy theory .
Robert Anton Wilson
Don't worry, boss, ' HARV said. 'I get the feeling that this is only the tip of the iceberg of complications.' 'HARV, you're a machine. You don't get feelings.' 'Would it make you feel better if I said I've done a numerical analysis on the probabilities and the results are skewed toward you having more problems with this case?
The office of science is not to record possibilities; but to ascertain what nature does ... As far as Darwinism deals with mere arguments of possibilities or even probabilities, without a basis of fact, it departs from the true scientific method and injures science, as most of the devotees of the new ism have already done.
In short, absolute, so-called mathematical, factors never find a firm basis in military calculations. From the very start, there is an interplay of possibilities, probabilities, good luck and bad, that weaves its way throughout the length and breadth of the tapestry. In the whole range of human activities, war most closely resembles a game of cards.
Carl von Clausewitz
The Hartle-Hawking derivation of the unconditional probability of the existence of a universe of our sort is inconsistent with classical theism. The unconditional probability is very high, near to 1. For purposes of simplification, we are saying the probability is 99 percent; there is a 99 percent probability that a universe of our sort-I will call it a Hartle-Hawking universe-exists uncaused. The universe exists uncaused since the probability amplitude is determined by a summation or path integral over all possible histories of a finite universe. That is, the probability that a Hartle-Hawking universe exists follows directly from the natural-mathematical properties of possible finite universes; there is no need for a cause, probabilistic or otherwise, for there to be a 99 percent probability that a Hartle-Hawking universe will exist. This is not consistent with classical theism. According to classical theism, if a universe is to have any probability of existing, this probability is dependent on God's dispositions, beliefs, or choices. But the Hartle-Hawking probability is not dependent on any supernatural states or acts; Hartle and Hawking do not sum over anything supernatural in their path integral derivation of the probability amplitude. Furthermore, according to classical theism, the probability that a universe exist without divine causation is 0, and the probability that if a universe exists, it is divinely caused, is 1. Thus, the probabilities that are implied by classical theism are inconsistent with the probabilities implied by the Hartle-Hawking wave function of the universe.
The approach and strategies are very similar in that you gather all the information you can and then keep adding to that base of information as things develop. You do whatever the probabilities indicated based on the knowledge that you have at that time, but you are always willing to modify your behaviour or your approach as you get new information. In bridge, you behave in a way that gets the best from your partner. And in business, you behave in the way that gets the best from your managers and your employees.
Mrs. Boffin, insisting that Bella should make tomorrow's expedition in the chariot, she went home in great grandeur. Mrs. Wilfer and Miss Lavinia had speculated much on the probabilities and improbabilities of her coming in this gorgeous state, and, on beholding the chariot from the window at which they were secreted to look out for it, agreed that it must be detained at the door as long as possible, for the mortification and confusion of the neighbours.
Have I ever remarked on how completely ridiculous it is to ask high school students to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives and give them nearly no support in doing so? Support like, say, spending a day apiece watching twenty different jobs and then another week at their top three choices, with salary charts and projections and probabilities of graduating that subject given their test scores? The more so considering this is a central allocation question for the entire economy?
Mathias shrugged. After all, a criminal lawyer is not concerned with facts. He is concerned with probabilities. It is the novelist who is concerned with facts, whose job it is to say what a particular man did do on a particular occasion: the lawyer does not, cannot be expected to go further than show what the ordinary man would be most likely to do under presumed circumstances.
Without doubt, matter is unlimited in extent, and, in this sense, infinite; and the forces of Nature mould it into an innumerable number of worlds. Would it be at all astonishing if, from the universal dice-box, out of an innumberable number of throws, there should be thrown out one world infinitely perfect? Nay, does not the calculus of probabilities prove to us that one such world out of an infinite number, must be produced of necessity?
William Batchelder Greene
Science fiction - and the correct shortcut is 'sf' - uses actual scientific facts or theories for the source ideas or framework of the story. It has some scientific content, however speculative. If it breaks a law of physics, it knows it's doing so and follows up the consequences. If it invents a society of aliens, it does so with some respect for and knowledge of the social sciences and what you might call social probabilities. And some of it is literarily self-aware enough to treat its metaphors as metaphors.
Ursula K. Le Guin
A dream is an idea involving a sense of possibilities rather than probabilities, of potential rather than limits. A dream is the wellspring of passion, giving us direction and pointing us to lofty heights. It is an expression of optimism, hope and values lofty enough to capture the imagination and engage the spirit. Dreams grab us and move us. They are capable of lifting us to new heights and overcoming self-imposed limitations.
Given our inevitably incomplete knowledge about key structural aspects of an everchanging economy and the sometimes asymmetric costs or benefits of particular outcomes, a central bank needs to consider not only the most likely future path for the economy but also the distribution of possible outcomes about that path. The decision makers then need to reach judgment about the probabilities, costs and benefits of the various possible outcomes under alternative choices for policy.
From books, I winnowed the glue that held together my psyche as it struggled to stay whole. It was from stories and myths that I learned to dream, to imagine a different life, to realize potentials and probabilities other than those of the painful, poverty-mired existence I found myself in as a child. With a book I could hide in a corner, safe from the heavy hand and belt of my stepfather, and for a while not worry about where our next meal would come from, or where we would be sleeping that night, or when my mother would break and have to be sent yet again to the mental institution. Books, for me, we tiny life rafts that I clung to desperately.
J. Don Cook
The first attempts to consider the behavior of so-called "random neural nets" in a systematic way have led to a series of problems concerned with relations between the "structure" and the "function" of such nets. The "structure" of a random net is not a clearly defined topological manifold such as could be used to describe a circuit with explicitly given connections. In a random neural net, one does not speak of "this" neuron synapsing on "that" one, but rather in terms of tendencies and probabilities associated with points or regions in the net.
The dilemma is this. In the modern world knowledge has been growing so fast and so enormously, in almost every field, that the probabilities are immensely against anybody, no matter how innately clever, being able to make a contribution in any one field unless he devotes all his time to it for years. If he tries to be the Rounded Universal Man, like Leonardo da Vinci, or to take all knowledge for his province, like Francis Bacon, he is most likely to become a mere dilettante and dabbler. But if he becomes too specialized, he is apt to become narrow and lopsided, ignorant on every subject but his own, and perhaps dull and sterile even on that because he lacks perspective and vision and has missed the cross-fertilization of ideas that can come from knowing something of other subjects.
One of the most basic and pervasive social processes is the sorting and labeling of things, activities, and people... Sorting and labeling processes involve a trade-off of costs and benefits. In general, the more finely the sorting is done, the greater the benefits - and the costs... Sorting and labeling, whether of people or of things, is a sorting and labeling of probabilities rather than of certainties.
A distinguished writer [Simeon Denis Poisson] has thus stated the fundamental definitions of the science: 'The probability of an event is the reason we have to believe that it has taken place, or that it will take place.' 'The measure of the probability of an event is the ratio of the number of cases favourable to that event, to the total number of cases favourable or contrary, and all equally possible' (equally like to happen). From these definitions it follows that the word probability, in its mathematical acceptation, has reference to the state of our knowledge of the circumstances under which an event may happen or fail. With the degree of information which we possess concerning the circumstances of an event, the reason we have to think that it will occur, or, to use a single term, our expectation of it, will vary. Probability is expectation founded upon partial knowledge. A perfect acquaintance with all the circumstances affecting the occurrence of an event would change expectation into certainty, and leave neither room nor demand for a theory of probabilities.
A system of justice does not need to pursue retribution. If the purpose of drug sentencing is to prevent harm, all we need to do is decide what to do with people who pose a genuine risk to society or cause tangible harm. There are perfectly rational ways of doing this; in fact, most societies already pursue such policies with respect to alcohol: we leave people free to drink and get inebriated, but set limits on where and when. In general, we prosecute drunk drivers, not inebriated pedestrians. In this sense, the justice system is in many respects a battleground between moral ideas and evidence concerning how to most effectively promote both individual and societal interests, liberty, health, happiness and wellbeing. Severely compromising this system, insofar as it serves to further these ideals, is our vacillation or obsession with moral responsibility, which is, in the broadest sense, an attempt to isolate the subjective element of human choice, an exercise that all too readily deteriorates into blaming and scapegoating without providing effective solutions to the actual problem. The problem with the question of moral responsibility is that it is inherently subjective and involves conjecture about an individuals' state of mind, awareness and ability to act that can rarely if ever be proved. Thus it involves precisely the same type of conjecture that characterizes superstitious notions of possession and the influence of the devil and provides no effective means of managing conduct: the individual convicted for an offence or crime considered morally wrong is convicted based on a series of hypotheses and probabilities and not necessarily because he or she is actually morally wrong. The fairness and effectiveness of a system of justice based on such hypotheses is highly questionable particularly as a basis for preventing or reducing drug use related harm. For example, with respect to drugs, the system quite obviously fails as a deterrent and the system is not organised to 'reform' the offender much less to ensure that he or she has 'learned a lesson'; moreover, the offender does not get an opportunity to make amends or even have a conversation with the alleged victim. In the case of retributive justice, the justice system is effectively mopping up after the fact. In other words, as far as deterrence is concerned, the entire exercise of justice becomes an exercise based on faith, rather than one based on evidence.
4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion... shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in furee¢... Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you... In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it... I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost... [Letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, advising him in matters of religion, 1787]