All posts tagged: long-lost debate

Welcome to Time-Travel Thursdays – The Atlantic

Welcome to Time-Travel Thursdays – The Atlantic

This is an edition of Time-Travel Thursdays, a journey through The Atlantic’s archives to contextualize the present, surface delightful treasures, and examine the American idea. Sign up here. Human excellence can take many forms—electric-guitar solos, French braiding, organic chemistry, and the throwing of pizza dough all come to mind—but when it comes to predicting the future, our species is basically an embarrassment. People tend to have little self-awareness about the blinkers of their own presentism. They fear change. They are generally terrible at accurately determining risk. And their views are too often driven by emotion rather than empiricism or even well-informed instinct. A slightly more charitable assessment is that people actually are good at predicting the future—just less good at predicting when and how any particular future will finally arrive. (The famous shorthand for this mismatch: “Where’s my jetpack?”) The passage of time has meant the emergence of an unintended genre of film and television that underscores this incongruity, in which past depictions of far-off futures are eventually revealed as off base. (Think Back to …