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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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(p.285) Conclusion
Predicting the Weather
University of Chicago Press

Meteorology in Victorian Britain was a science of expectations, not only in the literal sense in that it dealt with statements about future weather, but also figuratively, in that it summarized what Victorians thought science could or should be. The status of weather prediction as reliable knowledge grew from the difficulty of understanding atmospheric change. Throughout the nineteenth century, meteorologists struggled not only with the process of data collection but with the relationship of particular observations to the general laws of atmospheric change. In philosophical terms, this was the problem of induction: how could one build a general understanding from the accumulation of facts? Coupled to the philosophical and practical difficulty with observations in meteorology was the definition of probable knowledge. The development of weather observation networks coincided with the introduction of a new approach to probabilities: the statistical management of large amounts of data to reveal underlying patterns.

Keywords:   weather prediction, atmospheric change, meteorology, induction, probabilities, statistical management

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