“The problem with being a forward-thinker is half the world thinks you’re backwards.”



Perhaps the most profound words I have ever uttered to a very special young woman on the occasion of her being the valedictorian at her high school graduation who is about to enter Yale Law, one of fifty.


Albert Einstein remarked in 1932 that “there is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.” Thomas Edison thought alternating current would be a waste of time. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once predicted, when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, that airplanes would never be useful in battle against a fleet of ships. There’s nothing like the passage of time to make the world’s smartest people look like complete idiots. So let’s look at a few more. In 1883 Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society and no mean scientist himself, predicted that “X rays will prove to be a hoax.” When Gary Cooper turned down the Rhett Butler role in Gone With the Wind, he is said to have remarked, “I’m just glad it will be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his face and not Gary Cooper.” “Everything that can be invented, has been invented,” announced Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patents Office, in 1899.

Why is predicting the future so difficult? After all, if history is just one damn thing after another, shouldn’t the future be more of the same? But over and over again, even our most highly educated guesses go disastrously wrong. (Here’s Coco Chanel on the miniskirt, in 1966: “It’s a bad joke that won’t last. Not with winter coming.”) Of course, the smart play would be not to try to guess what’s coming next. But that’s not how we’re wired. Trapped as we are in the one-way flow of time, not predicting the future would be like driving a car without bothering to glance through the windshield from time to time. We desperately need prophets, even false ones, to help us narrow the infinity of plausible futures down to one or at least to a manageable handful. We look at the present and see the present; they see the seeds of the future. They are our advance scouts, infiltrating the undiscovered country, stealing over the border to bring back priceless reconnaissance maps of the world to come.

There’s Hiroshi Tsutsumi, who tries to predict the behavior of one of the most fickle, most influential demographics in the world: the Tokyo hipster. Former jazz musician (and current Federal Reserve Chairman) Alan Greenspan has been staring the future in the face for years and has to put our money (and his) where his mouth is. Peter Schwartz is the man whom Senators, ceos and movie directors go to for previews of the future. He predicted the rise of opec in the 1970s and the fall of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Sherri Lansing picks blockbusters for Paramount Pictures—she has scored in the past with big bets on Forrest Gump, Braveheart and—maybe you’ve heard of it?—Titanic. And mathematical geophysicist Vladimir Keilis-Borok comes into the office every morning to try to work out where the next major earthquake is going to strike. He’s had a few notable successes and one recent, prominent failure. No pressure there, Vladimir.

You have to feel for them. If the recent debates over the service records of our presidential candidates are any indication, we can’t even agree on stuff that has already happened, let alone on what’s next. But thank God some people are willing to put themselves out on a limb, even at the risk of being made fun of by future generations of smart-aleck writers.

We humans are gamblers by nature, incorrigible ones, but we’re not stupid gamblers: we need to know what the odds are and when the fix is in. So let’s extend our posthumous thanks to poor fools like Albert Einstein—as well as to Einstein’s high school teacher, who once made the following immortal prediction to Einstein’s father: “It doesn’t matter what he does—he will never amount to anything.”


Forward Thinker


Backward Thinkers


Forward Through Backwards Time

24 Responses to ““The problem with being a forward-thinker is half the world thinks you’re backwards.””

  1. susiezen Says:


  2. susiezen Says:

    but alone….

  3. rosettasister Says:

    You’re not alone, susie.

  4. JAC Says:

    i’m around too 🙂

  5. rosettasister Says:

    How are you feeling, Cindy?

  6. JAC Says:

    a little better, i think the easily absorbable Iron and folic acid are making a difference. I am taking pain pills less…. that is a plus… I hate taking pills of any kind…..

  7. rosettasister Says:

    JAC Says:
    February 22, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Are you satisfied, Cindy, that you have been diagnosed correctly?

  8. JAC Says:

    I am going to bring up lyme disease at my next visit… if nothing else to rule it out…… Where i live it is highly possible.. I have deer that munch on my flowers every year…. and i have pulled more than one tick off the dogs……

    i know i have arthritis in my knees, neck and upper back…… from a car accident when i was 20. add that with a family history of joint replacement….. and i have to say I will be bone to bone trouble.

    We’ll see, i will follow this course of treatment and see if it relieves the problems or if I need more investigating done.

  9. Fernley Girl Says:

    Please try eating organic for two weeks, uninterrupted. I’ll bet you feel healthier. And, it’s not as expensive as it first appears. Our grocery bill actually went down because my husband stopped eating every time he walked by the kitchen.

  10. JAC Says:

    I will be bone to bone trouble

    lol…. I will be PRONE to bone trouble

  11. JAC Says:

    The US has a plan to grab Federal Land and make it off limits to people like you and me. Please go to this site and vote no on s.22, this is important.


    This is easy it takes you right to the people you need to contact.

  12. patriotamy Says:

    JAC Says:

    February 22, 2009 at 9:52 pm
    The US has a plan to grab Federal Land and make it off limits to people like you and me. Please go to this site and vote no on s.22, this is important.

    JAC, the link doesn’t work.

  13. rosettasister Says:

    JAC Says:
    February 22, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I am going to bring up lyme disease at my next visit… if nothing else to rule it out…… Where i live it is highly possible.. I have deer that munch on my flowers every year…. and i have pulled more than one tick off the dogs……


    I was wondering about the Lyme Disease that “Rosebud” brought up.

    My beautiful daughter has Lyme Disease.

    Thank the Lord, we caught it early.

    She had just returned from a retreat on the north shore of Long Island (New York).

    I really do believe I “lost it” at the time.

    I couldn’t bear to think that she had something that she had to live with for the rest of her life.

    And I know that other mothers have a lot more to bear.

    But she’s doing fine, and the symptoms seem to have abated somewhat.

    But for awhile there, it was touch and go.

    So, we need to continue to pray for you and to keep you in our thoughts.


  14. JAC Says:

    it worked last night…… now I can’t get into it either

  15. JAC Says:

    Thanks Rose,….
    I will be fine,…. I’m a realist and a surviver.
    i survived being homeless for 3 months way back when I was 18 and took off on my own
    I survived two horrible car accidents,
    I survived losing 10 foot of intestine
    I survived almost dying from a severe drug interaction
    I survived the passing of three babies.
    I also survived cancer caught extremely early when I was 21.
    I lived through 2 weeks of hell going through tests 8 years ago. thinking i had a brain tumor… it was a cyst that was easily fixed by meds.

    You have to face things head on and not hide your head in the sand. I knew I wasn’t feeling right, I know my body, the only choice for me was to find out the problem…. If it is lyme….then I will manage i alway do….

  16. rosettasister Says:

    JAC Says:
    February 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Wow, Cindy!

    Words fail!

  17. patriotamy Says:

    Cindy, you are one brave soul. Tested and a true survivor.

  18. JAC Says:


    no matter what you still got to laugh and keep your sene of humor…. 🙂
    i have bad days like everyone else…. but sometime you have to kick your own self in the ass….

  19. JAC Says:

    now to make some extra money……lol

    hey everyone I have naked pictures of Troy running around here naked!!

  20. rosettasister Says:

    Nude Love Birds!

    From LoveyGirl88

    Two streakers in love on opposite sides of the planet. They meet for the first time in the most beautiful way!


  21. Il.Vicki Says:

    Jac I hope your doctor knows about lyme disease. Many don’t. There is no reliable test for it. A dr has to make a clinical diagnosis. I have many of your symptoms and all it took to feel better was antibiotics. I could walk again! My daughter had it, too. It took a year but she is completely better. Hope all goes well, and feel free to ask me any questions. Thanks for the welcome to this great blog, Rose!

  22. susiezen Says:

    jac, I was diagnosed last year with lyme. my joints were really achey, but worse than that I was so tired all the time, just not myself, and depressed too.
    I went on a 30 mday course of anti biotics, twice a day. they knocked my socks off…they were so strong they made me so ill. like I had the flu. I was retested 6 monthes later and the lyme is completely gone. the sad thing is that fibromyalgia is sometimes caused by lyme. I had the lyme long enogh that it messassed into the fibro. so my joints are still really achey…but they also think I might have arthritis….all three are auto immune diseases. they have alot in common, I think they feed off one another and evolve into the other…am I making sence?
    its been a long hard road, and the other thing I had problems with is taking too much iron…that causes huge pain in your joints…
    Did you have your thyroids tested….hypo thyroidism has all the symptoms of lyme. and a simple cure…I have been going through the mill lately, but if i ever get this resolved im writting a friggen book because docs dont seem interested in it all, to busy w/ the easy way….get you in and out, they dont like to have to work to haed for their money.

  23. rosettasister Says:

    New Thread:


  24. igaveup Says:


    i have had fibro too, for at least 14 years

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: