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Books, Journals, New Media
June 12, 2002

History, Probability: The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 2002;287(22):3007-3008. doi:10.1001/jama.287.22.3007

In The Science of Conjecture, James Franklin, senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of New South Wales, tells the story of how people thought about evidence and likelihood in the years before Pascal and Fermat discovered how to compute probability. Because there are few areas of life in which people do not weigh likelihood and ponder evidence, The Science of Conjecture explores many out-of-the-way places—from astronomy to witch trials, from religious redemption to maritime insurance. Through them all, Franklin shows how thought sharpened over the centuries, to the point where Pascal and Fermat could raise the measurement of likelihood from an art to a science.