The Public Interest

Social forecasting—the state of the art

Otis Dudley Duncan

Fall 1969

A “state of the art” report on social forecasting should, in all honesty, be quite brief. Such an art, in the sense of a coherent body of precepts and practices, has not yet been developed. It would be misleading to claim that social forecasting is carried on in a continuous and concerted fashion as one could claim in regard to, say, economic or business forecasting. The contrast is readily verified by comparing the articles on (sociological) “Prediction” and “Prediction and Forecasting, Economic" in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. So prevalent is the latter activity, in fact, that the practice and performance of economic forecasters are now considered worthy of formal statistical analysis.

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