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Ideas of Pierre Simon de Laplace, by Text

[French, 1749 - 1827, Went to school with Napoleon.]

1820 Philosophical Essay on Probability
p.70 If a supreme intellect knew all atoms and movements, it could know all of the past and the future
     Full Idea: An intelligence knowing at an instant the whole universe could know the movement of the largest bodies and atoms in one formula, provided his intellect were powerful enough to subject all data to analysis. Past and future would be present to his eyes.
     From: Pierre Simon de Laplace (Philosophical Essay on Probability [1820]), quoted by Mark Thornton - Do we have free will? p.70
Ch.XI p.72 The reliability of witnesses depends on whether they benefit from their observations
     Full Idea: The credibility of a witness is in part a function of the story being reported. When the story claims to have infinite value, the temptation to lie for personal benefit is asymptotically infinite.
     From: report of Pierre Simon de Laplace (Philosophical Essay on Probability [1820], Ch.XI) by Ian Hacking - The Emergence of Probability Ch.8
     A reaction: Laplace seems to especially have reports of miracles in mind. This observation certainly dashes any dreams one might have of producing a statistical measure of the reliability of testimony.