Prediction in science and policy

Daniel Sarewitz, Roger Pielke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Prediction in traditional, reductionist natural science serves the role of validating hypotheses about invariant natural phenomena. In recent years, a new type of prediction has arisen in science, motivated in part by the needs of policy makers and the availability of new technologies. This new predictive science seeks to foretell the behavior of complex environmental phenomena such as climate change, earthquakes, and extreme weather events. Significant intellectual and financial resources are now devoted to such efforts, in the expectation that predictions will guide policy making. These expectations, however, derive in part from confusion about the different roles of prediction in science and society. Policy makers lack a framework for assessing when and if prediction can help achieve policy goals. This article is a first step towards developing such a framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-133
Number of pages13
JournalTechnology in Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Earth science
  • Environment
  • Policy
  • Prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Prediction in science and policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this