Landscape of Prediction

Acrylic on canvas

91 x 61 x 4 cm


Statistics are pervasive in the contemporary world. Within most disciplines, meaning is sought among vast arrays of data, aiming for generalisation to other contexts and populations. The predictive power of statistics maximises the potential for harnessing the resources available in the physical world. Advancements in computer science have contributed to an increase in the accuracy of these 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.

The ability to predict phenomena would undoubtedly have been considered superhuman in primitive civilisations for whom only shamans or oracles could foresee the future. 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 nowadays, 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, at best revealing causality; at least, the strength of the relationship between variables. This dance of frequencies is scrutinised down to its minutiae: standard deviation, direct effect, confounding variables..., all to try and establish the probability of an event occurring. Was it cause and effect? Or a rolling of dice?

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© 2018  Sonia Ben Achoura - All rights reserved

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