Visionary News

A respected scientific magazine just asked me to contribute to:

A survey of major scientific developments to watch for in the coming year. … We’re reaching out to some of the most forward-thinking (dare I say "visionary"?) people we know, in hopes of getting their opinions on what 2009 might bring and what our readers … should be paying attention to. I’m hoping you might have some predictions to make or developments to expect for 2009.

This seems to me to misunderstand what it means to be "visionary."  At best, "visionary" folk see farther or deeper into the nature of what is or could be.  But that skill gives little advantage in forecasting major news events for the coming year.  For example, those of us who foresaw in the late 1980s that the web was coming had little insight into when exactly it would come. 

I suspect most editors and readers really know this deep down – they don’t really want useful forecasts; this is just an excuse to let readers affiliate with impressive thinkers.

GD Star Rating
loading...
Tagged as:
Trackback URL:
  • http://yudkowsky.net/ Eliezer Yudkowsky

    I keep getting this too. One of these days I’m going to snap and tell them that 2009 will finally be the year of the silver jumpsuit.

  • Will Pearson

    You don’t need to know exactly when something will come for a forecast to be useful. Take the prediction of the web, you could reason that if the web came into existance there would be demand for more IT people. You could try and get yourself into a position where you could retrain into IT (if you were not already), and keep an eye out on tech stocks.

    Visionaries allow you to prepare yourself, they give warnings and should allow you to act more quickly and effectively when things do happen. I’ll admit few people do prepare themselves, but the potential is there.

  • Not listed

    Well, it’s not like anybody’s going to be basing anything off of these forecasts. They’re something to read to pass the time, like a novel.

  • Charles

    Hopefully they don’t rescind the offer after finding Robin’s post before this one.

    Robin, will you please explain what you were thinking in your last post?

    Other readers of this blog: do you recall Robin ever admitting that he has made a bad assumption or reasoning error in the past?

    I know Robin is busy but I don’t see why he would want to damage his reputation by not explaining or admitting the two clear errors in his last post, which roughly all commenters agree upon.

  • Grant

    Other readers of this blog: do you recall Robin ever admitting that he has made a bad assumption or reasoning error in the past?

    No, but I can’t recall any posts by academic bloggers admitting something like that.

    I suspect most editors and readers really know this deep down – they don’t really want useful forecasts; this is just an excuse to let readers affiliate with impressive thinkers.

    I’m not convinced this is a big factor. To me its more like science fiction, which can be but isn’t necessarily read in order to affiliate with impressive authors.