Introduction

Humans have always sought to know their own future, be it the destiny of an empire or an individual's fate. Across cultures and history, we find people trying to find their place in the Universe by attempting to gaze into the future.

Join us for this one-week, immersive learning experience as we explore “pre-scientific” prediction systems ranging from ancient Chinese bone burning to the Oracle of Delphi to modern astrology and tarot, with practitioners and Harvard faculty leading the journey. We will examine the details of over a dozen prediction systems as well as theoretical frameworks connecting them.

 

This module is a part of PredictionX, which examines our efforts to predict the future over all of recorded history. PredictionX courses will cover topics from omens and oracles in ancient civilizations, which this course discusses, to the evolution of the general approach to science most take today (which includes the course John Snow and the Cholera Outbreak of 1854) as well as modern computer simulations and the role they play in predicting our futures today.

What you'll learn:

  • A variety of methods from across cultures and history for divining the future.
  • A common framework that describes human attempts to predict the future.

Meet The Faculty

Alyssa Goodman

Alyssa Goodman

Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of Applied Astronomy; Founding Director, Initiative in Innovative Computing, Harvard University

Alyssa Goodman is a physicist by training (Sc.B, MIT 1984, PhD, Harvard 1989), but an artist at heart. She combines her passions for science and art with interests in computing, archaeology, the history of science, and new technologies in her work, which spans astrophysics, data visualization, and new approaches to STEM education. She was named “Scientist of the Year” by the Harvard Foundation in 2015. The PredictionX effort began during Goodman’s sabbatical as “Scholar-in-Residence” at the WGBH media organization in Boston, and crystallized into the highly collaborative project you see today when HarvardX committed to creating re-usable, modular, online, multi-media content.

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