To regard induction as less dependable or “logical” than deduction is a fallacy. Only when empirical, inductive methods were applied to natural phenomena did a powerful body of natural science develop. Empirical science is subject to some ambiguities and limitations; but they are characteristic of all human thought. Three unique elements in the methods of empirical science give it its power: the deliberate design of experiments seeking to disprove a hypothesis; the systematic assessment and measurement of precision; and the erection of a general body of theory “explaining” particular facts and laws.

The success of empirical science has led to adaptation of its methods in a variety of disciplines, despite objections that these methods were inappropriate in these disciplines. Although scientific statements have in themselves a predictive connotation, use of scientific facts and laws for prediction is most conspicuous in such arts as medicine and engineering.

Forecasting shares many of the limitations and ambiguities of empirical science, and many of the objections raised to forecasting stem from these limitations and ambiguities. To some extent, the forecaster may be able to adapt the testing of hypotheses, the measurement of precision, and the erection of general theories that have made empirical science so powerful. As empirical science has moved from the relatively tractable to the relatively intractable, despite objections, so has forecasting. But forecasting is not a science in itself; it is an art like medicine or engineering. Like these arts, it draws most of its facts and laws from the empirical sciences.