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Predicting the WeatherVictorians and the Science of Meteorology$
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Katharine Anderson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226019680

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226019703.001.0001

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Precision and a Science of Probabilities

Precision and a Science of Probabilities

Chapter:
(p.131) Chapter Four Precision and a Science of Probabilities
Source:
Predicting the Weather
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226019703.003.0005

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

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