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The rise of statistical thinking, 1820-1900

Author: Theodore M Porter
Publisher: Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, 1986.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Not since the invention of the calculus, if ever, has a new field of mathematics found such extensive application as statistics in the twentieth-century. This book presents thoroughly and lucidly the diverse nineteenth-century origins of the mathematical tool of our day. Emphasizing the debt of science to nonspecialist intellectuals, Theodore Porter describes in detail the nineteenth-century background that produced  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Theodore M Porter
ISBN: 0691084165 9780691084169 069102409X 9780691024097
OCLC Number: 13158796
Description: xii, 333 pages ; 25 cm
Contents: The social calculus: Statistics as social science ; The laws that govern chaos ; From nature's urn to the insurance office --
The supreme law of unreason: The errors of art and nature ; Social law and natural science --
The science of uncertainty: Statistical law and human freedom ; Time's arrow and statistical uncertainty in physics and philosophy --
Polymathy and discipline: The mathematics of statistics ; The roots of biometrical statistics.
Responsibility: Theodore M. Porter.
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Abstract:

Not since the invention of the calculus, if ever, has a new field of mathematics found such extensive application as statistics in the twentieth-century. This book presents thoroughly and lucidly the diverse nineteenth-century origins of the mathematical tool of our day. Emphasizing the debt of science to nonspecialist intellectuals, Theodore Porter describes in detail the nineteenth-century background that produced the burst of modern statistical innovation of the early 1900s. He shows that the natural and social sciences were surprisingly interdependent. Statistics arose as a study of society, the science of the statist, and the pioneering statistical physicists and biologists, Maxwell, Boltzmann, and Galton, each introduced statistical models by pointing to analogies between his discipline and social science. The author also examines significant philosophical issues raised by the development of statistics in the 1800s. For a time, the evident success of statistical social science was held to be inconsistent with human free will. Gradually a consensus was developed that the need for statistical methods arose from the diversity of phenomena, which precluded explanation in detail. Debates concerning the nature of statistical knowledge were central to the new indeterminism that began to emerge at the end of the century. -- from back cover.

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"An outstanding feature of Mr. Porter's book is its depiction of the interrelationships between statistics and certain intellectual and social movements... [The book] is unfailingly Read more...

 
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