BEING RIGHT, DOES IT MATTER? | 2002-03-02
In earlier centuries, book publishing was instant communication. It might take you a year or more to go from manuscript to a printed book, but the world changed very little in a year.
In our day it still takes the publishing bureaucracy a year to get a book out and these days an awful lot happens in a year.
The year before the first sheep was cloned a scientist submitted his final manuscript for a book to come out the following year. One of the things he proved conclusively was that scientists would never be able to clone an animal. The first cloned sheep and the book came out the same month.
This made this particular scientist the best known man in his field. All the media mentioned him, which, for a hard science man, is a lot of publicity. His career is going very nicely, thank you.
Being wrong HELPED his career. This is not unusual.
Very few people I know ever go back and read old conservative writings. So everyone who finally does actually read old conservative writings thinks he has made a unique discovery. It turns out that the person he reads was psychic!
Predictions about the future from the Old South are uncannily accurate. Segregationist writings about what would happen with integration are dead accurate. Conservative predictions about the results of liberal programs are right on target, and nothing liberals say ever works out.
In 1985, not one single paid Soviet expert had the slightest inkling about the collapse of the USSR. Every single paid Russian expert today is either one of those who were paid in 1985 or they were given their credentials by people who were paid Soviet experts in 1985. Being wrong meant less than nothing.
Futurology is defined as an attempt to predict the future. It is nothing of the sort. Futurologists are people who are PAID to predict the future and are PUBLISHED when they write about the future. Here is the important point: Nobody will ever go back over what the futurologists predicted and say who was right and who was wrong.
To the futurologist, predicting the future is totally irrelevant. What he must do is GET PAID to write about the future and get his predictions on the future PUBLISHED. Being paid and published NOW is all that matters for a professional futurologist.
If a futurologist predicts anything Politically Incorrect, he will lose his job as a futurologist and no one will publish his predictions. No futurologist ever predicts anything that offends today's publishers or media managers.
Like today's history, today's futurology is a Just-So Story in which everything past and present fits in perfectly with the picture Politically Correct people want. Any future that doesn't fit will get you fired, and any past that doesn't fit will mean you never get published again.