Posted: December 8, 2013
Predicting the future can be risky business…
Recently we talked about remembrances and dreams. Now let’s go in the other direction. Predicting the future can be risky business. We can made wild or calculated guesses. We can study the past to see if it repeats itself (in some ways it does). We can become soothsayers, clairvoyants, fortune tellers, mystics or prophetic seers, visionaries, or diviners and give it a try. With a little skill and lots of luck, we may succeed on occasion.
I remember as teenagers a few of us met in the custodians residence and tried our hand at the art. Someone had heard of making a card table rise on two legs so we gave it a try. With deep concentration, we were awed that we could make it rise simply by placing our hands gently on the top of the table on three sides.
We then made it rise, and one of us tried to push it down onto all four legs but it wouldn’t budge (and all hands were on top of the surface). Now what? We tried asking simple questions: yes or no, and numbers. It rose once for yes, twice for no. Then we asked how many books on a shelf (no one had counted them). It rose up the exact number of times and stopped. We asked how many knives, spoons and forks were in a specific drawer and it counted correctly. And several other questions.
We were spoofed. It was eerie and after several mind-boggling correct answers, we called it quits and vowed not to tell anyone (at that time, anyway). I was intrigued, mystified because we did not cheat nor could we understand its accuracy when none of us knew the answers but could verify it after the fact.
So much for predictability. There is some validity out there but a lot of guesswork and wishful thinking.
Let me close with a few contemporary potential predictions. Can excessive debt (student, household, government) eventually cause serious problems? Can coverups backfire in due time? Could untested, secretive maneuvers ever replace democratic procedures? Would it ever be wise to condone all physical enhancements in sports? Would opening all doors overnight discourage thievery?
Were those predictions predictable? The question is raising the right issues for possible, not impossible, prediction isn’t it? Prediction is a precarious art and not always scientific but at times may be necessary. Are we asking the right questions? Should we be asking more questions that can be verifiable?
Search all articles byDan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community. • E-mail the author (su.nergaesnad@brabnad*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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