Future Schlock

ONLY ONE FORECAST IS A CINCH: PEOPLE WILL KEEP ON PREDICTING

THE FUTURE, a destination so close that it is arriving every second, is somehow always too distant to be clearly seen. That has not stopped generations of would-be forecasters, from Nostradamus to Alvin Toffler, from squinting in that direction. But prognosticating has always been a difficult, if not perilous, undertaking. No less a person than Henry Adams, one of America's most perceptive thinkers and historians, declared in 1903: "My figures coincide in setting 1950 as the year that the world must go smash." Close, but no prize.

Old Testament prophecy assumed that history would proceed along lines laid down by a...

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