Predict The Future

The ability to predict the future is an art. An art that can be learned. Culturally we teach children at a young age that predicting the future is make believe and anyone who says that they can predict the future is silly and is probably a con artist.

Take a moment to think about what it actually means to predict the future. To some degree everyone is expected to be able to. If you put your finger on a stove top it is safe to assume that in the near future there will be a burnt finger.

How about a harder one. What will person x think, act, say and do when you say what you are going to say next? "What about free will?" I hear you say, "Of course there is no way to predict the future here." Hmmmm. What if your life depended on it? You could. In this case "predict the future" just means figure out the things that will happen more often than not.

Now comes the really tricky part. Sometimes by trying to predict the future it ends up altering what would have happened. Imagine the following scenarios where you are having a conversation about something important the person you are talking with may do soon:

No predicting the future. Just say whatever comes to mind.

  • Whatever was going to happen happens.

Predict the future and say whatever you were going to say.

  • Your body language is not going to say the same thing as it would have had you not predicted the future. There is a chance that something different will happen.

Predict the future and flat out say what your prediction is.

  • The person entirely disregards what you said and does whatever they were going to anyway.
  • The person takes your prediction as a challenge (consciously or otherwise) and tilts the future out of favor of whatever you predicted.
  • The person thinks about it, agrees that maybe the outcome will be as you predicted (consciously or otherwise) and tilts the future in favor of whatever you predicted.

Predict the future and attempt to subtly guide the future towards what you think is better.

  • The results of this are the same as flat out saying it. However they are harder to measure.

There is a choice every person can make. Either: 1) Assume the burden of investing time and energy in an attempt to guide the future. Or: 2) Invest no effort at all and let whatever happens happen.

Which is better under which circumstances?

A similar and amazing technique is to make self fulfilling prophecies. The placebo affect can go a long way. Why not intentionally induce it? Think about potential outcomes of a situation, even seemingly far fetched ones. Pick the one you want. Believe and act like it will happen. More often than otherwise, the outcome you chose will have become the reality.