In many fields of science, such as population genetics or climatology, we are uncertain of past conditions but have knowledge that makes some scenarios more likely than others. We can estimate the likelihood of various past states in a way that is very similar to predicting of future conditions from current knowledge. This gives useful insight into the processes leading to the present, which inform our predictions of the future. As an example, we may wish to infer the number of founder individuals of an invasive species based on genetic diversity observed in the current population.
Historians also use a similar approach when considering the consequences of particular events and actions, particularly through the lens of alternate histories.
Does anyone know of a specific word for this retrospective prediction?