Since everybody remembers what Yogi Berra said about this hoary subject, we can skip it. Still, we can’t help but wonder with Calvin, where are all the rocket ships we were promised! Predicting the future is hard, but its inherent difficulty, nor poor ability of those engaging in the hobby, ever stopped anybody. We certainly won’t let it stop us.
This is our time to make guesses of what will happen over the next year. Be careful not to mix desire into your prognostications, for doing so will surely make you look foolish.
Examples of what I mean are provided by Fox News reporter Maxim Lott (a name which sounds suspiciously fictional), who gleaned the best of busted environmental forecasts, and then gave the opportunity to the predictive personages to explain themselves (thanks to Marc Morano for the link). Here’s a portion of the first:
1. Within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” Snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Dr. David Viner, senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.…
“Over the past decade, climate science has moved on considerably and there is now more understanding about the impact climate change will have on weather patterns in the coming years,” British Council spokesman Mark Herbert said [on Viner's behalf]. “However, Dr Viner believes that his general predictions are still relevant.”
Wrong but “relevant.” How very nice. Lott also lists a few of the juiciest from fearless forecaster Paul “It’s The End Of The World And This Time I Mean It” Ehrlich, in which that gentleman was able to say of each—without lightning striking him dead—”See! I was right!”
In a way, Erlich’s, Viner’s, and the other gentlemen’s bald assertions of faultlessness in the face of adverse actuality is charming. You have to love a guy who is never right but sticks to his guns. He does so because his core beliefs—the theories and hypotheses that drive his predictions—are just too pretty to give up. He cherishes his theories, he pets them and speaks softly to them, he lavishes gifts on them and upon others who can appreciate the same beauty he sees—and he savages those who would call them ugly.
Now, if a theory is a true theory, predictions based upon it will be accurate, or nearly so. The problem is that true theories are not always beautiful; they are often mutts, and they are often unloved because of this. Thus, we often have a choice: embrace beauty or truth. We know what most opt for.
We shall aim for truth. Be as facetious as you like, but affix genuine predictions (if any) with the letter RP, for “real prediction.” No real predictions about personal status, please! No “forecasts” along the lines of, “After 2011, I will be one year older. Har har.”
To maintain as wide an interest as possible, let’s try to keep national or international in scope (this includes surmises about specific technology). If it is not otherwise obvious, provide directions for unambiguous verification of your predictions. We don’t want anybody hiding behind the excuses of the type, “That’s what I really meant.”
Once 2012 rolls around, and if I still draw breath and am able to edit this site (covering all bases, here), we’ll see how well we did. There will be no evading the ignominy of a failed prediction by calling it a “scenario” here. Limit yourself to events falling withing the calendar year of 2011. No official entries past one week (7 January).
I expect full participation, gang. Fire up those engines of infallibility and get forecasting! I’ll post my own predictions in the comments section with everybody else’s.