19 Jan 2003 12:57

Amongst all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitious.
---George Eliot, Middlemarch, bk. I, ch. 10
A.k.a. futurology. Bunk, of course --- see Popper --- but there's a damn lot of it, and I know of at least one case where it has served a useful function. (Namely, the efforts of J. B. S. Haldane, Bertrand Russell, and J. D. Bernal inspired much good science fiction, as have the more recent efforts of their self-conscious successor Freeman Dyson.)