Alright, so I imposed a little on Yogi’s legacy. He was right then and it still is true. In our hyperfast info world of today we are literally inundated with predictions of one sort or another. We don’t probably get that many more than 75 years ago its just that they jump off the website of any news outlet you choose or some talking head is pontificating on your favorite news channel whatever that may be. To keep this within some boundaries lets focus on three areas–intelligence, financial news and or course today the virus and/or health issues.
Predictions come from the same institutions over and over again. They are the Government, Academe and the Financial titans or financial analysts. In the last week how many articles or segments on tv have started off–so in so said, opined, believed ( fill in the blank date) that such and such would happen. The news media always pick someone who procrastinated correctly or course and someone who fits their particular narrative of the moment–whatever that may be. Naturally there is always someone who predicted something correctly. We’ll save for later comment the predictions that were and sometimes disastrously wrong.
We have for good or ill, the FBI, NSA, CIA, DIA and State Department all making their assessments, reports, memos and recommendations regarding military and intelligence matters. You have any idea how many thousands of people you are talking about doing that work? Actually it is tens of thousands. They are not Jack Ryans. They are mostly little nerds sitting at their desks reading newspapers, magazine, internet sites, debriefs of agents or assets, etc, about their particular area of expertise or geography. A tiny handful read raw reports from agents on the ground. They are our experts. They are also bureaucrats, never forget that, and they do what bureaucrats have done since Egyptian times, they write reports and pass them along to someone up the food chain. They offer warnings of one type or another and make predictions.
The same thing occurs in academia. Those PHDs or MDs all work on their specialty. Doing research which is mostly reading papers written by someone of their ilk at another school, Foundation or Government agency. We all know that those professors are not spending hours and hours each week in a real classroom or seeing students during so-called office hours. They study their data and read gobs of research by others doing work in the same area. Then of course they write papers, essays or assessments. Like the government groups there are literally tens of thousands of them. They predict future events, in chemistry, medicine, physics, climate warming, engineering or what have you.
Financial analysts and famous financiers make predictions constantly. You have W. Buffet and Robert Reich and Jim Cramer. The financial channels are literally overflowing with them. They make predictions about everything economic or financial virtually every day. Again there are thousands of these people. Not as many as they other groups but a boatload for sure.
All those predictions are like the old saw about 1,000,000 monkeys and 1,000,00 typewriters. Sooner are later you will get Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Make your own guesstament but I think you would ultimately agree that the overwhelming majorities of all these predictions are wrong. Some got something right. But just because you had a bad stomach ache and I predicted you had appendicitis I don’t think you would really want this old lawyer performing the operation. But hey, I was dead right on my prediction. When you read or hear about some one who “warned” or predicted something would occur and it did. Please bear in mind all those other smartest guys in the room who didn’t agree with it. There is always a large number of them. Many predictions turn true for the most random of reasons and rarely for the same ones highlighted by the predictor. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, Fauci has been wrong on several counts. That doesn’t diminish the value of their opinions. The Pentagon Papers were an internal assessment made by some in the military. Their conclusions fit the narrative liked by the NYT and WP. Voila, a prediction that was prescient. Hey, the military was making constant assessments about the Vietnam War. This was merely one of many. That war could have been fought differently, like interdicting the supply lines of the north Vietnamese, really interdicting with troops, aircraft or whatever it took, mining Haiphong harbor, destroying Hanoi, etc. But the only prediction that mattered was the one promoted and touted. That prediction for what it is worth was not correct. We didn’t ultimately lose the war as foretold by them. We quit.
In the name of God, please put all those articles, whether leaning left or, right, that reveal someone, somewhere predicted, warned or hell, prophesied some particular event would occur in some kind of context. There is a really good chance that his prediction was one of hundreds and his just happened to be right. I am old enough to remember the thousands of predictions from the ’50s about nuclear energy. It was going to eliminate coal and natural gas as energy sources. We would have abundant clean energy forever. Didn’t quite turn out that way but I bought into it as a teenager. I thought that was really a cool idea at the time. So when you read about all the current predictions about life after the pandemic passes, apply a healthy grain of salt to flavor it. Someone will have it right and those other headline predictions will fade, only an embarrassment if reminded of them later. Remember those monkeys and Occam’s razor. My prediction is that we will land in a boring equilibrium like mankind usually does.
Is my prediction worth a toot? Probably just that, a toot. Not Beethoeven’s opening in his Fifth symphony.
God Bless from around the campfire. Time for the old codger to take his brain enhancing pill.