Mike Smith's Reviews > Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail - and Why We Believe Them Anyway

Future Babble by Dan Gardner
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's review
Jul 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction

A follow-up to his book on the psychology of risk, Dan Gardner tackles a related subject: predicting the future (after all, risk management is about deciding what to do when you're not sure how the future will turn out). It turns out that most so-called experts are only right about future developments in their fields about half the time, and yet we continue to ask them for their predictions and to believe them. And the more certain they are, the less accurate and the more respected they are!

Gardner examines the psychological reasons behind this. It basically boils down to subconscious needs to remove uncertainty from our lives and assuming the future will be like the present, only more so. The writing is clear and engaging, although there is some repetition of the major points and a slightly condescending tone (both problems that I found in his previous book, as well). Still, the work is well researched and presented in a non-technical way that should be accessible to everyone. It's a good tonic for those of us hyped on predictions about peak oil, global warming, flu epidemics, and all the other things we worry about.

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