Tuesday, 11 May 2010

more or less

More or Less

To most people, progress always means "more." Quite a few worthwhile developments, though, have resulted in "less."

There was once a marvelous invention called the "horseless" carriage.

Then came the "wire-less" telegraph. And now the "cordless" telephone.

Credit cards foreshadow the "cash-less" society; electronic funds transfer systems, the "check-less."

Much progress attended the arrival of "water-less" printing -- better known by its Greekish name, "xerography." (The law of unintended consequences has prevailed. Thus, nearly submerged in a paper deluge, we turn to ubiquitous personal computers electronically networked together. The office of the future might indeed be "paper-less.")

The "feather-less" chicken didn't work out very well, but the "seed-less" grape did.

Some say the "bark-less" dog and the "smoke-less" cigar wouldn't be bad ideas for their neighbors and spouses, respectively.

So, why not the "motor-less" cycle?


In varying degrees, all persons are futurists.

The future is illuminated only by opinion. There are no facts about the future.

Debate is the ineluctable activity of the futurist.

An analogy serves no purpose in speculative controversy except to illustrate an agreed-upon point.

Think seriously about principles. Make your assumptions explicit. Invent a future. Then find a debating partner.

Be suspicious of all utterances that start out in the first person singular. The least reliable source of the common experience is oneself.

You want the common experience? Watch daytime television.

An average is just one measure of "central tendency."

You can drown in a lake the average depth of which is one foot.

Watch those "bimodal distributions." The average American has one breast and one testicle.

People often see in the future what they think ought to happen, not what they think will happen. It is easy to contaminate prediction with advocation.

Surprise-free projections can turn to mindless extrapolation. According to early predictions, all adult women by now should be employed as telephone operators.

"Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." Taking this literally can be foolish. Time is the great innovator. Consider each option on its own merits.

"We did that before and we got into trouble." Yes, but (1) did we do it right? (2) If we had not done it, would we still have gotten into trouble? (3) Even more trouble?

Don't forget, for every "because-of," there is at least one "in-spite-of."

Thinking hypothetically in the past tense is injurious to the mind. Thinking hypothetically about the future is all you have.

The law of unintended consequences will always prevail.

The futurist must think unthinkable thoughts about social dislocations, about a world without petroleum, about nuclear winter, about...

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