Landscape of Prediction
Oil on canvas
Statistics are pervasive in the contemporary world. Within most disciplines, meaning is sought among vast arrays of data, aiming for generalization. The predictive power at the core of statistics is the basis for understanding and harnessing the resources available in the physical world. Advancements in computer science have contributed to an increase recent times in the accuracy of observations, and most importantly, the patterns that emerge from the data. The inferences drawn have become increasingly precise, allowing to catch glimpses of a future in which predictable factors coexist with erratic phenomena.
This predictive ability would undoubtedly have been considered superhuman by primitive people for whom only a few privileged individuals such as shamans or oracles could supposedly foresee the future. Yet this novel divinatory discipline has become an established research process in most fields of study, a widespread practice of collecting and analysing data. The findings obtained from such evidence-based protocols are subsequently used to implement changes in policy and practice. In rapidly changing contemporary societies, statistics have proved an invaluable tool to observe and record patterns of changes. All aspects of Western society are, to this day, guided by research.
From correlation to Anova, mediation analysis to T-test, the methodological spectrum continues to widen, bringing about increasingly elegant insights. Whether high or low, scores on variables are assessed, revealing causality, or at least, the strength of the relationship between variables. with a simple graph conveying rich and insightful information. This dance of frequencies is scrutinized down to its minutiae: standard deviation, direct effect, confounding variables… to try and establish the probability of an event occurring. Was it cause and effect? Or was God the rolling the dice?