TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

There are no facts in the future

Fact-oriented behavior is considered rational and methodical by many, especially technocrats. But facts exist entirely in the past. The human future is composed of what we intend to do, what is likely or probable, what we assume and what we believe. The human future is completely devoid of facts. When this simple fact is ignored, it has a huge effect on how people (even technocrats) launch initiatives. People often fail to distinguish between "that's how things are" and "that's how they have been in the past". Shaping the future requires abandoning fact oriented thinking EXCEPT to the extent that facts from the past can shape our assumptions and beliefs. We can look at Oklahoma tornadoes from last week (i.e., a fact) and create an assumption "I should build a better basement shelter" or "I should leave Oklahoma". Neither of these has any facts but the divergent assumptions have a huge impact on the person's future. The tornado doesn't know the difference and doesn't care.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 4 2013: the entire human history refutes your theory. human behavior is based on modeling and forecasting. everything we do is based on predictions. we buy icecream because we think it will bring us joy, based on our past experience.

    if the past would be in no way representative of the future, this behavior would not have served us, and we would have abandoned it long ago, or rather, we would not have evolved into that direction. the very fact that we, humans, are so successful indicates that there is a correlation between facts of the past and facts of the future.
    • thumb
      Jun 7 2013: Where are we successful? And how are you measuring success? Would your feeling of success be different of mine? And then if it was based on a feeling who's feeling would we use?
      • thumb
        Jun 7 2013: success means an achieved goal. i don't judge the goal, nor i care about whether it was a mistake to want that in the first place. in some cases, it was. what makes us the most successful species is that we can achieve what we want.

        we wanted our kids to survive. so we got rid of polio, malaria, cholera and all the other diseases. we learned about sanitation.

        we wanted to have abundant food. we have now. in the western world, hunger is not anymore an issue. and neither in any peaceful country.

        we wanted protection from cold. we made it happen.
        • thumb
          Jun 7 2013: I am pretty sure I could argue with you about the hunger thing, but it would be moot. Success as in achieving a goal sounds like a good measurement. And under that definition you would be right.
      • thumb
        Jun 17 2013: Re: "And how are you measuring success?"

        Survival. Which, ultimately, is futile because we will die anyway. We are in a hamster wheel. Future is like the past, past is like the future, what's above is like what's below and it keeps spinning. The goal is the activity itself.
        • thumb
          Jun 19 2013: But what are we trying to survive from or for? Why do we need or continue to spin in the same hamster cage?

          What happens when it is man and government stopping our survival?

          I am pretty sure you already know I agree with the idea that with in infinity everything is arbitrary
      • thumb
        Jun 19 2013: Re: "But what are we trying to survive from or for? Why do we need or continue to spin in the same hamster cage?"

        See above: "The goal is the activity itself." Your questions are the ones that I prefer to avoid. The answer is self-referring like the one I gave. You can get a headache trying to understand what the answer means or trying to find a different one.

        Re: "What happens when it is man and government stopping our survival?"

        Two possibilities: we either die or survive. Seems to be fairly clear to me. :-)

        Yes, when we consider infinity, the possibilities are unlimited. Which seems to be an equivalent of having no possibilities at all.

        (you need sound to appreciate the profound philosophical meaning of this wonderful web site)
        • thumb
          Jun 19 2013: That site was great and definitely funny.

          I am pretty sure I know what the answer means, or should I say as humans we already figured out all the (arbitrary) paths. Right because it is the path that is arbitrary while the answer still remains truth. And as far as existence goes every different answer has always been the same answer. It's about letting go of decisions made long ago.
        • thumb
          Jun 19 2013: Only here on paper can no work ever been done. W=FD

          "the goal is the activity"

          Otherwise it doesn't matter if you are sitting "still"or running a marathon you are doing work

      • thumb
        Jun 19 2013: Re: " it doesn't matter if you are sitting "still"or running a marathon you are doing work"

        One of my coworkers once noticed: even on a day when you do nothing, it still takes all day to do that :-)
    • Jun 8 2013: You're absolutely right that the past is used for modelling the future and rightly so. The problem is that a large number of people (including technocrats) are not as perceptive as you. Facts from the past are taken as facts from the future as opposed to probable models. More importantly, the impact of un-modelable stuff like hopes, intentions, dreams and desires is swept under the carpet. If we had an accurate model for an ostensibly technical thing like sub-prime mortgages or junky Enron energy trading, the people in charge would have been jailed in advance of their greedy impact on the financial world.
      • thumb
        Jun 19 2013: Do you think you can out smart newtons third law of motion? Or yin-yang. How do you create your equal but opposite reaction to self? While decreasing harm and increasing potential of a greater good?

        If your equal but opposite reaction to self walk up and introduce him or her self would you know right away it was you?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.