The gift of prophecy

“It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine.”

– REM

So today is the day that, according to many, the Mayan calendar predicts the world will end. Of course these guys didn’t even see the Spanish coming, so I’m not sure why we give their forecasting skills much credibility.

Our world is filled with people offering up bold, highly confident predictions. Re-elect Obama and we will sink into a morass of Socialist despair. Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have guns. Cut government spending and we will sink into a recession. Or cut that same spending and we will finally trim our deficit and enter a brave new world of prosperity.

As Nate Silver reminds us, we must learn to distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data and input.

And we must consider the source.

And remember that the past is less and less a good indicator of the future.

I’ve had some success persuading people to buy into my (or my team’s) view of the future. And my batting average isn’t bad.

But when I, or anyone else, starts believing that they have the gift of prophecy, well that is a dangerous thing indeed.

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