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.

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