Cover Image: The Primacy of Doubt

The Primacy of Doubt

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Member Reviews

This book has three parts and Part One is excellent but Part Two is borderline worthless and should be skipped in its entirety.  Part Three is mostly the author's opinion and as such is okay. The author does an excellent summary of Newton's Three-Body Problem and Henri Poncaire's proof which showed that non-linear dynamic systems can not be predicted since they are chaotic. Ed Lorenz discovered this regarding weather. This presented very bright people like Palmer who desperately want to forecast long-term trends to adopt a process that they call "ensemble prediction" which is as Poncaire demonstrated a fool's errand.
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This is one of the best NetGalley books I've read in a long time.  I tend to read new science titles that focus on math, physics, or astronomy, and I prefer they aren't popularized too much in their approach.  PRIMACY OF DOUBT meets the bill, stopping short of actual math but definitely giving a qualitative treatment to a difficult topic.  The author talks through how various chaotic systems (not just "chaos theory") can benefit from being analyzed using ensemble systems that contain some level of random noise to allow for uncertanities in the initial conditions.  This applies to weather, climate, pandemic forecasting, econmics, even our brains.  If you don't mind thinking a little while you read and can put in the effort to slow down and follow along, this one is well worth it.
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