The esteemed Zenpundit and I have begun a discussion on comparative methodologies for historians and futurists that looks promising. See Mark’s “original post”:http://zenpundit.com/?p=2701 and “my comment”:http://zenpundit.com/?p=2701#comment-7116 that sparked his “detailed reply”:http://zenpundit.com/?p=2702 which “I then analyzed”:http://zenpundit.com/?p=2702#comment-7279.
Please join the conversation over at Zenpundit. There are many CA community members that have a better grasp on this stuff than I. I would especially like to hear “Adam’s”:http://risk.typepad.com take.
*ADDENDUM*: Since Mark’s comments field ate my HTML I will post my comment below the fold, where it might be a little more easier to digest.
Great post. First off I would like to qualify my original comment and emphasize that I _did_ notice your use of the term “complementary.” I wasn’t challenging your conclusions but was trying to draw a distinction between your wish of how things _should_ be (one that I share, I might add) and how things actually are (at least with respect to my personal experience.)
I share the sense that the methodologies are complementary. What my comment called for was an analytical comparison of the various methodologies to establish if any actual functional compatibility exists. I went through your post and pulled out some methodological keywords that you use to describe futurism and history. I separated them further into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. This may be considered “heuristic bias,” but I would like to use this dichotomy as I think it is the faultline between historians and social scientists.
A brief glance shows a gap in the
qualitative quantitative area reflected in your comment that “History is a craft, not a science.” However, futurism is also about the “craft” of qualitative analysis as well, so the two are not necessary diametric. One common aspect of both fields is the philosophic, specifically the epistimelogical consequences (once again I would like to do a double-take at the term “discrete facts”) and the eternal quest to pare down “bias”:http://cominganarchy.com/2007/09/15/be-bias-aware/. This is an area that I think could be explored more. If you know any good journal articles about this let me know.
Moving on, I would like to challenge one of your statements: “The problem with futurists is that their predictions are all too frequently in error.”
Error denotes precision. Futurists are in the forecasting business _not_ the prediction business. If a futurist constructs a number of variant scenarios, none of which exactly fit the present conditions, but are able to be used to inform decision-making, where is the error? The fact that the scenarios could be drawn upon for guidance makes the futurist a success. Qualifying uncertainty is a key aspect of forecasting, one that is often overlooked by the public. Hey, we all can’t be fans of Sherman Kent.