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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon January 9, 2011
As for the author's book on risk, this book is clear, easy to read and shows why the expert predictions that we see every night on the news, should be taken with a grain of salt. Likewise the grand statements by other public figures are also likely to be based in some measure on defective information that is the result of no one taking the time to logically apply reasoning. This book should be mandatory reading for every journalist, politician and public "expert". By illustrating specific examples of "grand predictions" and why they turned out wrong, the author builds his case quite forcefully. Also he does a good job of showing why it is difficult to predict the future and why we want to believe things, even those that seem the most outlandish. This book offers a great deal of insight into how public policy questions become anything but rational exercises.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2010
Dan Gardner eloquently illustrates that Socrates was correct in saying the wise know what they don't know but that most people will ignore the wise if provided a confident sounding alternative.

Gardner provides an up to date summary of research in psychology and many, many well documented examples of both the failings of over confidence and the human propensity to fall for the confident story, especially ones own.

An excellent read and resource for anyone needing reminding of the madness of crowds or a counter to over confident forecasters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon March 25, 2011
'Future Babble' documents the futility of prediction, which competes with our internal drive to know our destiny. This would be a very short book considering how easy it is to provide examples of failed futurists, however, Mr. Gardner goes one step further. He provides evidence for our need to be sure in a world that's become ever more connected and therefore ever more difficult to understand. There are other books on this topic, 'Black Swan' being one of the best, however 'Future Babble' does offer it's own take on how we can be so easily fooled into believing the nonsense presented to us in the guise of a science that can prophesy the future. And we believe it. We need to know and the more confident the speaker, the more likely we are to believe him of her even though they are sure to talking absolute nonsense. We are more likely to believe a confident voice over the reasoned speculation of an educated commentator. It's a crazy irrational side to our species that we are all too susceptible to and Dan Gardner argues that it is incumbent that we be aware of.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2010
This should be required reading for everyone, experts included, who think they are qualified to predict the future. This book will act like a cold shower for those people. For the rest of us it is a fascinating examination of the disease of certainty. I now save newspaper headlines that make sweeping predictions (Climate Armageddon's-a-comin'). If I may be so bold as to make a prediction: in a few years time we will look at those headlines and shake our heads that we could have been so certain and so wrong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2011
Pundits who make sweeping predictions about the future are almost sure to be wrong, Gardner reports in this fascinating book. But you can't really blame them. Their brains are hard-wired to exaggerate threats, extend current trends in a straight line into the indefinite future and reject information that contradicts their existing beliefs. Perhaps even worse, we -- the pundits' audience -- are programmed to demand certainty where there is none. We forget old predictions that were proven wrong and glom onto new ones with the eagerness of children. We believe forecasters who make the boldest and most confident predictions even though they're the least reliable guides to the future. So what are we to do? Gardner nudges us toward a more realistic way to prepare for a future we can't predict. Find and use the best information but acknowledge the limitations on what we know and be prepared to revise our outlook when new evidence comes in. In short: be foxes who know many things, not hedge hogs who know one big thing, in the metaphor popularized by Isaiah Berlin. This is a good book, filled with clear explanations of the imperfect way we process information. Gardner also offers lots of good examples of failed prophets who refuse to own up to their errors. One of my favorites involves some true believers who predicted the end of the world on a very specific date and were undaunted even when it did not happen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon April 19, 2011
In this entertaining book, which mainly provides us with examples and studies showing how no one, and that means no one, knows the future, Dan Gardner provides us with the helpful contrast between foxes & hedgehogs. Hedgehogs know 1 big thing, and are very certain and frequently wrong as a result. Foxes know many things and integrate that knowledge and uncertainty into a more nuanced and accurate view of the future. Foxes don't look good on TV, so hedgehogs are what we prefer to listen to. Perhaps a few of us, after reading this, can become conscious of our susceptibility and correct for it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2012
A thoughtful book which puts the many predictions we are faced with daily into a dubious light. Well researched and well written. This book should change one's take on media spin.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I really want to read this book -- it sounds excellent, and the author is a fine journalist. However his publisher, McClelland & Stewart, have badly overpriced the book here...it will be available any day now for one-third less from Amazon in the U.S. (or right now as a $15 ebook http://www.amazon.com/Future-Babble-Predictions-Believe-ebook/dp/B00457X8JO/).

It's odd (dare I write "unacceptable"?) given that the book originates in Canada with a Canadian author from a pseudo-Canadian publisher.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2012
Dan Gardner reads easily but after a few anecdotes the story becomes repetitive. I'd borrow this book from my local library before deciding to add it to my own shelves.
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