George Parker: Forecasting The Future. Art, Science, Or Bullshit?

George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com. Every week he shares his opinions on the advertising world with PSFK.

There’s an article in the current issue of The Atlantic, “Bill Gates: More profit than prophet”. It would seem that since he made some forecasts about the future in his snore of a book, The Road Ahead, fifteen years ago, of the eight predictions he made, only a couple have actually come to pass. Well, apart from the fact that he’s richer than God (Which, as everyone knows, is actually Steve Jobs,) he’s funnily enough, twenty five percent right, which in comparison to all the so-called futurists out there, isn’t that fucking bad.

Don’t get me wrong here; I am not including PSFK in this motley crew. No, otherwise this could be the last of my earth shattering columns you might be desperate to enjoy in the future. The difference is that PSFK deals in trends, Piers may be padding out his numbered Swiss bank account flogging forecasts to corporate America, but that’s not why you come to this fountain of erudition every day, to be guided as to what new social network pimply teenagers are jumping on this week, or what’s the latest in Japanese sex toys. Which is not the same as saying we will all be flying around in aerial jet cars in a couple of years. That was covered in depth by The Jetsons fifty years ago.

But ever since Nostradamus, or the Aztecs, or shamans tossing grimy bones about in the fire pit, a great many crafty people have been making a healthy living telling the unwashed masses their interpretation of what’s going to happen next Thursday at 3.32 PM. Ergo, have you ever listened to douchenozzles like market guru, uberfreak, Jim Cramer on MSNBC telling you his pick of the week? Even though it’s been proven time and time again, you have more chance of getting rich by throwing darts at the stock tables, he sells a shitload of books. Am I jealous? Fuck yes.

But my all time favorite is Faith Popcorn – And, with a name like that, how can you take anything she says seriously? This is a lady who runs a company with the equally off-the-wall name of “BrainReserve.” Does that mean you can put a shiny new brain on lay-away and make monthly payments? The intro to her Web site says… “If you knew everything about tomorrow, what would you do differently today?” Notice she doesn’t fuck around here and say “What if you knew something about tomorrow.” No, she has the nerve to say fucking everything. Hey, if I knew everything about tomorrow, I would back every winner at the Big A, and never write another psfk column. Just kidding, ‘cos I know you would miss me. Anyway, various studies have shown that she’s just about on a par with Bill Gates when it comes to end results.

Like I said in The Ubiquitous Persuaders (did ya buy it yet?) People want to believe the promise of the future, particularly if it’s outrageous enough, or promises a three day erection. That’s how Dr Dichter made a killing for a while, but it all becomes really fucking old as the prophesiers are eventually out prophesized by someone with a more glitzy prophesy. It was best summed up in the dumb title of a book I reviewed a couple of years ago… Chasing Cool. As I pointed out in my review, if you have to chase cool, you’ll never catch it. And if you can’t recognize it, you never will. Settle for being what you are, whatever the fuck that is. I did… OK, waiting for the shitasmic comments.

George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.

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