"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." — Niels Bohr, attributed
"Not to know what happened before one was born, is to forever remain a child." — Cicero
“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” — Voltaire
"Science is a method, not a position." — Rupert Sheldrake
"When the facts change, I change my mind. What, Sir, do you do?" — John M. Keynes
Everyone has a stake in the future, whether they're aware of it or not. And good predictions are one of the very best tests of one's awareness and understanding.
Thus, Future-Tensing (FT) is for the willfully aware: of the future(s), the big-picture, and the mental models to think about such. We're a discussion group emphasizing learning, often in a Socratic style, and we value cognitive dissonance as an excellent and demanding teacher — because skepticism should begin with one's own beliefs and world-view.
Another way to describe FT is, it's about building an actively open mind, often by considering the future(s) — a topic always rife with uncertainty. So we learn, teach, and discuss internal perspectives, and external reality. Meaning, we build broad understandings of the past, expose our assumptions and mental models in the present, and weigh the uncertainties and conflicting paths of the future.
• How we play: We meet regularly to present and discuss history, events, trends, mental models, and forecasts. Typically, our meetings have 1-2 talks with discussion, followed by unstructured socializing. Discussions emphasize curiosity, empirically-backed explanations, and counter-factuals; all of which are generally preferred over opinion and anecdotes. All FT members are welcome to present/kickstart talks and topics — a few slides and some open questions are sufficient to get started!
• Who should join: Future-conscious stakeholders, and the insatiably curious. Holistic thinkers and doers. e.g. entrepreneurs, journalists/writers, artists, students, technologists, investors.
• FT values: curiosity, wisdom, fallibility. We encourage surprises, and new/different perspectives. We stay wary of confirmation bias, and build the habit of suspending judgment while learning further.
• FT rejects certainty, ideology, and stupidity i.e. willful ignorance. FT is not for those who are offended easily, or unwilling to admit ignorance and error. If you cannot recall the last time you changed your mind about something important, this group is likely not for you.
• Attendance Policy: Spots are usually limited to keep the discussion cozy and manageable. But please note that I have little patience with flaky and inconsiderate people. It takes work to have a good meetup, especially for speakers to prepare, so the least you can do is show up when you say you will. For FT events in general: if you RSVP "Yes" but don't show up, or cancel <24h before the event (making it impossible for someone on the waiting list to take your place in time), I will note it as a no-show. If you flake/no-show twice, you'll be permanently banned from the group without further discussion. And if you are new and no-show on your first RSVP, you'll also be banned permanently; no point starting things on the wrong foot. Finally, unregistered guests are generally NOT allowed to FT meetups: everyone shall be accountable for their words (hail to King Leonidas). Now, with all that out of the way, thank you for being an adult, and we can get on with having a great time discussing.
• Example topics: philosophy esp. epistemology and philosophy of science, mental models and tools (e.g. scientific and cultural paradigms, rhetoric, cognitive biases), world affairs, social/economic/technology predictions, trends of all sorts, scenario planning, investment forecasts, historical patterns, and powerful/enduring ideas.
• Example books: The Measure of Civilization by Ian Morris; The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb; Strategic Vision by Zbigniew Brzezinski; The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver; Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond; The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter; World Systems Analysis by Immanuel Wallerstein; Triumph of the Optimists by Elroy Dimson.
• Example media: the better parts of publications like Lapham's Quarterly; Edge.org; TED (when they're not censoring); Project Syndicate; Foreign Affairs; Le Monde Diplomatique and generally alternative/independent media over mainstream mush.