Talk:Futurist

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I deleted some of the sweeping generalisations from the article and have relocated the unreferenced section below. Maybe some is worth adding in if referenced. --Bob Burton 00:34, 14 Jul 2006 (EDT)

Many of these are Americans. This is not a coincidence, as the United States has historically attracted and rewarded people of exactly this mind-set.

Max Dublin in his book Futurehype, 1990, criticized the role of the futurist in secular society as similar to that of the soothsayer or fortune teller or astrologer. Rather than pointing out choices, he noted, most are concerned with predictions of fate, inevitability, forces beyond human control.

Unlike predictions which can be validated by the scientific method, which claims are generally allowed as "science", a futurists' claims are often confined to science fiction, ideology and (with increasing influence) technology investment, including that by the military-industrial complex.

For example, belief in "inevitability" of the spread of nuclear power drove many countries to invest in it unwisely in the 20th century. Many are likewise driven to invest in biotechnology or artificial intelligence by similar hype, or ambition to control dangerous technology for military purposes.

While almost all futurists would deny that there is such a thing as futurism, there clearly is: it is the belief that there is value in predicting the future, and spending one's own individual capital (free time) in doing so. This may relieve the individual of the need to make choices or encounter his or her own feelings or fears. If something is in the future as opposed to being simply in one's own head, of course, it is not evidence of any need for psychiatry, but, rather, a vision of things to come.

Futurism is akin to scientism, mathematical fetishism, and belief in the mystical (e.g. "invisible hand") forces of various kinds of economics, (e.g. the neoliberal political economy) - sometimes called economism or autistic economics. When combined with some mathematical models and quantitative analysis, lack of imagination, groupthink, ass-covering, and over-belief in the power of backward-looking numbers to predict the future, it can be especially dangerous. The Project for a New American Century was a notable project full of such pseudo-analysis.

Somewhat better at prediction was the NewRuleSets program of the U.S. Naval War College under Thomas Barnett, which had as its logo, as far back as 1996, lightning bolts striking the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

As evidenced by bizarre public investment decisions, over-reliance on predictions can advise investment in weapon or infrastructural capital that is useless or obsolete on construction, e.g. most computers and all nuclear weapons. This in turn facilitates planned obsolescence and a whole waste economy simply to guard or dispose of the toxic waste that such products consist of.