The Blind Futurist

Futurists are suppose to look at the present and see future destinations. This knowledge is supposed to shape behavior. A problem arises when futurists see and address little problems and miss or fail to address the big ones.

For example, most people want abundance, peace, and a healthy environment. But many know our collective destination is elsewhere. While some individual's lives are locally and immediately improving relative to those experience by their parents, most of the earth's population are experiencing increasing scarcity, conflict, and environmental decay.

These views do not changethe behaviors that determine these trends -- our decisions that create and provide for our families.

Instead we adopt our culture's 100 rules of thumb. We deny anything bad is happening and than our personal behaviors contribute to bad destinations. We believe acts like recycling and conserving are adequate ways to change any bad destinations.

And we believe that technologists, institutions, and god will resolve the problems without our help.

In this way, culture prevents us from seeing ourselves in simple terms. It prevents us from seeing that we are like rabbits on an island, who are increasing their capacity to eat grass. When the rabbits collectively eat too much grass, the grass dies. The roots do not prevent soil erosion and less grass grows. Some rabbits starve. Some rabbits fight for the remaining grass.

Of course, our global community is more complex. For example, the human mind creates social institutions, religions, ethical frameworks and technology. However, none of these extras "so far" seems to change the fundamental trends toward the destinations no one wants.

Even when we can see where we are going, we don't take that destination seriously enough to look for and make the changes in behavior that would change our course.

This letter is to vent my disappointment with the Futurist Magazine, (maybe the Future Society) which in its efforts to be positive in presenting opportunities to shape the future, is failing to adequately present the dominant trends toward conditions that threaten most progress.

It seems counter productive (if not irresponsible) for the Futurist to be so focused on secondary problems and their change mechanisms, when the worst destinations and their primary determinants remain not addressed. The Futurist risks being to global problems what aspirin is to a brain tumor --something that makes you feel better but not a solution. --

----- One way to change our course is to change the way a future generation gathers, processes, and values information. More powerful thinking processes could prevent them from acting like us. See "cognition based solutions to global problems" on


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