Predicting the Unknown—Sampling, Smoke, and Mirrors


The idea that a soothsayer may be able to know the unknown intrigues us, thanks in part to our natural fascination with the unknown.

The unknown may be something that has happened in the past, but is unrecorded, such as the number of words in the vocabulary of a stroke patient before the stroke. Alternatively, the unknown may be something in the present, such as the number of high school seniors enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) calculus this semester; or even something in the future, such as the ocean temperature in 10 years. On the other hand, the unknown is not bounded by reality, but can include spirituality, imagination, and fantasy.

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