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Causality: The Prediction Prompt
In her book God, Human, Animal, Machine, the writer Meghan O’Gieblyn tells the story of a friend who had overcome a drug addiction. In the depths of her addiction, she had stolen to get money for drugs, including by repeatedly conducting a receipt scam at a big box store. O’Gieblyn continues:
When we met, she had been clean for almost a decade and was in the process of completing a degree in sociology. As part of the recovery process, she had made an effort to pay back the money she’d stolen over the years, not only to individuals but to stores, including this major national chain. She told me that day that she had saved up several hundred dollars, a rough estimate of what she’d taken over the years. About a week ago, she said, she’d taken this money to the store where she’d done the receipt scam, met with the manager in his office, and explained the situation. He was very nice, she said, very understanding. But in the end he told her he couldn’t take the money. The company apparently lost a certain percentage of its revenue each year to theft, a number that could be predicted with enough accuracy to be budgeted into its annual expenses ahead of time. It was called “shrinkage.” My friend asked if she could donate the money, but of course the store did not take general donations. The manager said she could give the money to one of the charities they partnered with, but it would likely be more efficient to send the money to them directly. She said she would consider this, but after she left, the whole situation began to unsettle her. She had gone to the store to redress the harm she had caused, but the truth was that she had caused no harm at all. The money she had stolen was in a way already accounted for. There was no deficit to pay back.
Paragraph 1: Explain what effects, if any, the thefts committed by O’Gieblyn’s friend had upon the corporation.
Paragraph 2: Explain what effects, if any, the store’s predictions regarding “shrinkage” had upon O’Gieblyn’s friend.
Paragraph 3: Based upon what you have written, draw some conclusions about the relationship between prediction and freedom. Some questions to get you started might include: Are accurate predictions possible, given our free will? If so, do they limit our choices? If not, why not? How do predictions influence the way we behave, if they do?
Compose a clear, orderly, and unified essay employing a fluid style and correct grammar and punctuation. The essay should total between 500 and 700 words.

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