The Soothsayer

crystal-ball

We love to make predictions. But, clearly we are bad at making them. Take a look at sci-fi books from half a century ago and you’ll see that most of the predictions never happened.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a man was interviewed by the Time magazine. He said this:

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

That man was Charles H. Duell the commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Shortly after the interview, he resigned from his position.

The First World War was expected to last a few months. It finally last 4 years and around 8.5 millions people died. Making it the most violent conflict in history at that time. Nobody could predict that. And nobody could predict that it would happen again 21 years later.

Nassim Nicolas Taleb explain in Black Swan that we are often mistaking a naïve observation of the past as something definitive or representative of the future.

Last year, Warren Buffet offered 1 billion dollars for correctly guessing all the game of the NCAA March Madness. The result? Not a single soul won.

Most of my and your predictions are dead wrong. You don’t believe me? Start taking notes of every guess you make. You’ll see how bad you are. We have a problem of overrating the success of our forecast.

The end isn’t near. Maybe it is. We have no fucking clue about it. It’s as simple as that.

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3 thoughts on “The Soothsayer

  1. Drôle que tu abordes ce sujet: justement reçu aujourd’hui ma commande amazon avec ces livres qui sont tous au sujet du futur (fiction):- Ecotopia- Ecotopia Emerging- The Postman- World made by hand- Patriots: A novel of survival in the coming collapse Mais le plaisir est que c’est de la Fiction (dystopies pour la majorité: le contraire d’utopie).;D

    Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2015 00:49:49 +0000 To: benjaminlabrecque@hotmail.com

    1. La science fiction ça se trouve à être dans le champs la plupart du temps. Mais, n’empêche que c’est excellent pour voir la créativité de l’auteur.

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