Archive for February 17th, 2010

History and Futurology

I keep pointing out that futurology has nothing to do with the future and history has little to do with what actually happened in the past. This is VERY important to BUGS because history and the future it leads to are critical to us.

As usual, this all goes back to basic BUGS thinking. Futurology and history are now INSTITUTIONS. They have no more to do with real history or futurology than the Puritans’ offspring have to do with Christ.

I don’t think you can use any information without knowing this basic reality.

The question is NOT “Are they biased?” EVERY piece of information is PRODUCED. It is not produced “except for biases.” It is not produced to be objective, it is produced for grants and for sale. You have to start there.

Think about it: If you had written a perfectly accurate prediction of the future in the 1950’s no one would have published it.

The Soviet Empire would simply collapse because socialist economics is SILLY? No respectable conservative cold get hold of THAT one. Socialism was wrong or oppressive, but just plain SILLY?

Civil rights would lead to a campaign for intermarriage and the complete collapse of America’s borders?

The same is true in technology futurology. You cannot imagine how ridiculous a prediction that the MACH 2.2 Supersonic Transport would just go away would have been half a century ago. All history showed that each generation traveled FASTER. That was a fundamental GIVEN.

And the end of the manned space program? Asimov did think it possible that we would use robots instead of men in many cases, but he didn’t THINK about it. No one would have read anything that said we could send a machine to find things out.

One of the funnier things that tell you about the fifties was Dick Tracey’s two-way wrist radio. I remember debates about whether such a thing would ever be possible. Now it would sell for five bucks.

The point is that it didn’t matter in the least whether futurology was ACCURATE. No one would publish your accurate articles THEN.

No Sovietologist ever missed a meal because not one of them had any idea that the USSR was about to collapse. They got published THEN and they are experts NOW. They get paid to tell us the future of Russia, and they would have been ruined if they had been accurate.

“The USSR is just going to go POOF because it’s SILLY.” You would have ruined saying that in 1980 and nobody in the institution of Futurology would rehabilitate you when it turned out you were right.

We know that, but we never THINK about it.

You might try it sometime. When someone cites research, you might want to ask them WHY that was produced. I don’t mean PC stuff, I mean stuff no one would THINK about. Why did they do research on that instead of something else? I don’t know what you will get back.

Do the Mantra first, but I am just curious about what would happen.

It’s called “the literature.” Someone researches something because someone else researched something. There is nothing wrong with that, but it gives you a view of reality that people simply do not THINK about.