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The validity of statistical induction

from Lars Syll

In my judgment, the sensible usefulness of these modes of inference, right here termed Common and Statistical Induction, on the validity of which the boasted data of recent science relies upon, can solely exist—and I don’t now pause to inquire once more whether or not such an argument have to be round—if the universe of phenomena does in actual fact current these peculiar traits of atomism and restricted selection which seem increasingly more clearly as the last word outcome to which materials science is tending …

The physicists of the nineteenth century have diminished matter to the collisions and preparations of particles, between which the last word qualitative variations are only a few …

The validity of some present modes of inference might depend upon the belief that it’s to materials of this sort that we’re making use of them … Professors of chance have been typically and justly derided for arguing as if nature had been an urn containing black and white balls in fastened proportions. Quetelet as soon as declared in so many phrases—“l’urne que nous interrogeons, c’est la nature.” However once more within the historical past of science the strategies of astrology might show helpful to the astronomer; and it might develop into true—reversing Quetelet’s expression—that “La nature que nous interrogeons, c’est une urne”.

Professors of chance and statistics, sure. And roughly each mainstream economist!