Archive for April 25th, 2010

Futurology and Madam Olga

I have said repeatedly that Futurology has nothing to do with the future. That is a result of Mantra Thinking: Why is information produced? Futurology is entirely based on what TODAY’s editors and foundations want to see happen and what today’s readers want to read about.

The greatest combination of scientific and social knowledge, genius, and good sense in the middle of the eighteenth century was Benjamin Franklin. He invented all the basic terms we use for electricity, battery, positive and negative and others. He was in at the beginning of the force which would transform the new century.

Franklin also said that electricity was a study of a phenomenon which should be known. He added that the one thing he was sure of was that it would never have any practical use. He said that right up until he died in 1790.

Not unusually, Franklin had an eye for the future EXCEPT in the area in which he was expert. This is so common I consider it to be a rule, whose few exceptions prove the rule.

An expert has an exact idea where his field is and where it is going. Sudden changes, like the development of practical chemical batteries and alternating current generation, catch them by surprise right in the middle of their theorizing about how things will progress. Edison died an opponent of AC.

Bill Gates flatly predicted that we would NEVER need more than a megawatt in a home computer. That’s the wrong exact number but I don’t want to try to find the quote again.

You can tell when a science fiction book was written while reading it. You can tell when a Futurology book was written when you read it. You can tell when a history book was written when you read it. That should tell you how much these writers about the future know about the real future.

But remember, unlike most writers, these are people who get published and who get paid. Their information is PRODUCED. They are paid because they are experts on the field as it is NOW, They appeal to readers who read NOW.

We see Experts as totally out of the class of fortunetellers at the fair because the Experts really do know a lot. But when it comes to the future, they are in exactly the same business. The Crystal Ball in the tent tells you what sounds reasonable to you. It tells you what you want to hear. It gives dire warnings about things you already understand.

That is exactly what the Experts do when they turn to the Future.

Only mavericks and heretics have ever been right about what is to come.