Friday, May 12, 2006

The Experts Have Spoken.

On New Years Day I blogged about psychics and their predictions and my skeptical attitude toward professional psychics, but the other kind of prognosticator is often wrong as well. Many experts have made serious predictions that call their expertise into question. The American Spectator has a short but interesting article on people making wrong predictions.

Here is a real beauty from Newsweek in 1975:

"The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the Earth's climate seems to be cooling down," it warned. "The present temperature decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average.
"Satellite photos showed "a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72,"

That is sure a different scenario than they are describing today.

I remember a certain nationally known disc jockey predicting that Elton John would be a "One-hit wonder" when Your Song hit the charts. (I won't say his name because I can't document it.)

Books such as the pessimistic Future Shock and the optimistic Megatrends have proven equally mostly wrong and both partly right.

Watching the movie 2001, A Space Odessey is depressing to a space buff like me when I think of where most people honestly believed we'd be today. Who would have believed in 1970 that there would be such a huge gap between the Apollo moonlandings and the next landing; it will probably be in the ballpark of 50 years (Apollo 11 was 37 years ago!). I miss the optimism and spirit of adventure that the space program had in those days.

When I was in Junior High (@1970) we read that within 20 years cars would be computer guided with no driver. I see that has happened too.

I guess the future is quite unknowable and even experts are making educated guesses.

8 Comments:

Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

"I guess the future is quite unknowable and even experts are making educated guesses."

That's why I didn't comment on your previous post. :)

11:06 PM  
Blogger NEO, SOC said...

I think politics is what's slowing us down. If the government wasn't so interested in getting the sophisticated shuttle in space and functioned on smaller cargo type transports; they could have brought material in space to construct an new space station years ago. I believe the programmable vehicles would have been deployed before the turn of the century; however the government understood that one factor could never be controlled and that's the human element. Think about it; if we had the cars programmed to operate at the speed limit; some bureaucrat would figure out how to override the program for "special purposes"; or then you'd have to deal with mercenary hackers who you try to find codes for important people and hijack vehicles with the click of a mouse. As much as I like the idea; it's feasibly not advantageous because of the military/covert power it would wield.

9:52 AM  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

I have a book from the 1980's, more like a magazine, that was issued when I was at Ford taking courses in their systems. It was titled 2000 and beyond I believe. In it they tried to show the road map on the path to these computer guided cars. Let's just say they took a wrong turn, or ran out of gas ... LOL

Some of it is now reality, but it's far from what was predicted.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

These theories are formed with limited models that can't possibly take into account all of the variables of societal evolution. The reason we never went back to the Moon is that we got the big No-Prize! There is little of value there to justify the expense of going there. Really, space exploration has not advanced much since the Apollo program. One problem is the lack of a powerful propulsion engine. We will continue to be confined to our inner solar system until this problem is licked. Another possible use for nuclear power. Clean, renewable energy from nuclear power is still elusive. They have been talking about fusion since I was in Jr. High (1973).

2:24 PM  
Blogger armed_and_christian said...

Roger Zelazny wrote about the computer-guided car back in the 60's. One of the problems mentioned in the story was that of people punching in the wrong coordinates, and the car might take off on a several day or several week-long trip. The passengers, trapped without food, water, or the option to stop the vehicle due to computer error, would die. Some of these vehicles would become "ghost cars;" zooming around endlessly and aimlessly like "Flying Dutchmen" of the road, with their deceased passengers still trapped within.

As a child, I remember reading the story and thinking how untenable a prospect it was simply because of the insurance liability. Should something go wrong with the car, who is responsible? The manufacturer? The central computer? How many insurance companies would be willing to create policies that covered accidents caused by computer-operated vehicles?

It'll never happen.

Neo: Space Stations are a complete and utter waste of time, effort, and resources. Where is the benefit? The whole notion of mining moon gases for fuel don't convince me. Lay off the Sci Fi channel for a while and read "Gateway" by Frederick Pohl. It details life on a Space Station, and it ain't pretty.

8:03 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Jay, as we have said before, I disagree with you on this issue. I love you my BIC but you are wrong.

note: BIC = Brother in Christ.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous benning said...

I remember the first Moon landing, watching it with my Dad. He introduced me to SF and we were both excited by the step into space. I expected bases there by now, and landings on the planet Mars before the end of the 20th century. *sigh*

Prophecy is one thing, prognostication is another. I'll stick with Jeremiah and Isaiah, thanks. ; )

10:04 PM  
Blogger armed_and_christian said...

shoprat: No, you're wrong! Nyaah! :P

8:37 PM  

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