Source: Christopher Chantrill

It’s that time of the year when everyone is forecasting the future. But the whole business of forecasting is useless because the future is a combination of the same-old-same-old and the unexpected. That is why humans have invented prophecy, examining runes and entrails and the results of economic and climate models to divine the future.

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And the prophecy better make a good story, because nobody wants to hear the same-old-same-old! And who has a clue about the next Black Swan event?

What is really interesting is not the prophecy. What really matters is When Prophecy Fails, when all the runes and entrails and scientific models get tangled up. Yes, there’s a book about this, by a bunch of scientists: Festinger et al. They studied a UFO cult that flourished right after World War II. The members were convinced that the world was about to end but that they would be rescued by a UFO spaceship.