Unknowable Future, The Fallacy of the

The argument that, since we do not know what is going to happen in the short term, we are even less likely to know what is going to happen in the long term. This is true only sometimes. In other cases, the long term may be more predictable than the short term. For instance, if you are sitting in a room with a thermometer and a cup of hot coffee (and you don’t drink it), you can forecast accurately the temperature it will be in five hours’ time (the temperature of the room), but not the temperature it will be in ten minutes’ time. You can forecast a long-term trend in the oil market (prices will rise) but have no idea what they will do in the next few days.


Related entries:

Systems Thinking > Feedback > Time, Precautionary Principle, Butterfly Effect, Time Fallacies, Denial.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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