Chapter

Precision and a Science of Probabilities

in Predicting the Weather

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780226019680
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226019703 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226019703.003.0005
Precision and a Science of Probabilities

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This chapter gives attention to methods of observation in the science: what was being measured, and why. These questions emerge within a narrative of the history of the Meteorological Office under the reforming management of the Royal Society. By the 1860s and 1870s, increasingly uncomfortable with the public nature of their enterprise, the Royal Society sought to dismiss forecasting and confine meteorology to the observatory. But this quickly led to discussions about the merits of precision, statistical knowledge, and determinism. When the order of quantitative evidence failed to satisfactorily control the disorder of atmospheric phenomena, meteorology became a battleground for scientific and religious authorities to debate the limits of natural law.

Keywords: meteorology; science of probabilities; methods of observation; forecasting; statistics; quantitative evidence; natural law

Chapter.  15568 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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