Saying Sooths

I have a sketch of an idea that I’ll likely never implement. It’s called Uninteresting Predictions.

Projects like the excellent Paleofuture or Long Bets track the great predictions of the past and present. These are the fun predictions where people go out on a limb about what’s to come. A lot of predictions aren’t really forecasts, they are discussion generators, attention-bait, and attempts to shape the future.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Marcin Wichary

There is a second set of predictions. These are so ingrained in our thinking that we don’t even think of them as such. I’m interested in the non-bold predictions. How many of those do we get right? What is the success rate of conventional wisdom? What self-evident futures happen and what don’t? Would such a project even be possible, in that if the object of study is ingrained conventional wisdom, would we even be able to identify the uninteresting predictions in the first place?

I’m imagining an incredibly boring Quora or Reddit where we challenge people to type up the most mundane predictions they can imagine and then the crowd votes on the mundanity. The goal being to record a consensus of what things will almost certainly come to pass (or remain the same). Then you carry those around for 10, 20, 50 years and see how many still hold true.