Prognostication

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Prognostication (Prognosis)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Astrological prognostication refers to astrological prediction, although prognosis is more accurate for what astrologers actually do. If the future were rigidly fated, then, no matter what anyone did, only one future would be possible. Given this assumption, one should be able to predict the future. The term prognostication, however, does not imply a rigidly fated future. Instead, the term seems to suggest that human willpower can, within certain limits, change the future. Like a weather reporter, an astrologer can only predict upcoming conditions. Whether or not one chooses to go for a picnic on a day a meteorologist predicts rain—or on a day an astrologer advises staying at home—is a matter of personal will.

Prognostication

 

(also prognostics), in a broad sense, the theory and practice of forecasting; in a narrow sense, the science of the rules and methods for elaborating a forecast.

These definitions have been associated with the term “prognostication” since the mid-1960’s, when the first scientific reports appeared on the theoretical problems in the specific forecasting of social phenomena.

The foundation for the general methodology of prognostication was laid by K. Marx, F. Engels, and V. I. Lenin. Prognostic research developed in the natural sciences (initially in agrohydrometeorology). In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, prognostic research was introduced in the social sciences (particularly economics), resulting in the development of prognostication as a special scientific discipline. The development of prognostication as the theory of forecasting has been interconnected with the development of theories of scientific prediction, goal setting, planning, programming, projecting, and management.

The main task of prognostication is the elaboration of a specific methodology of forecasting, in order to improve the effectiveness of the methods and techniques of working out forecasts. Among the problems studied by prognostication are the distinctive traits of forecasting as a specialized form of scientific research, the principles underlying the structure and optimum combination of various methods of forecasting, the methods of evaluating the reliability of forecasts, and the principles for using the results of probability theory, game theory, operations research, and decision-making theory in elaborating forecasts.

There are two branches of prognostication—general (theoretical) and specific (applied). The applied branches are components of both general prognostication and particular scientific disciplines (medical, biological, economic, and demographic forecasting, for example). Especially in the social sciences and in social forecasting, the applied branches of prognostication form intricately interrelated systems.

The discipline of prognostication, which is still developing, has played an important role in perfecting the methods of forecasting. However, many of the problems in prognostication have been insufficiently elaborated.

REFERENCES

Gvishiani, D. M., and V. A. Lisichkin. Prognostika. Moscow, 1968.
Filosofiia i prognostika. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from German.)
Lisichkin, V. A. Teoriia i praktika prognostiki. Moscow, 1972.

I. V. BESTUZHEV-LADA