If you believe that, as a civilization, we have grown beyond the fortune teller’s crystal ball or have overcome the baseless fears (or hopes) that those advocates of superstition used to instill within us, think again. This article will change your mind.
Do not confuse technology (the specialized products of the minds of a few) with mass intelligence – that is, the stupidity of the collective mind. We are still eager for horoscopes and predictions, although we no longer believe in crystal balls – outdated instruments now replaced by 16 x 9 aspect ratio monitors attached to Pentium processors.
The new fortune tellers are statistical computer models, interpreted by “authoritative” snake oil salesmen such as the World Health Organization or the National Center for Health Statistics.
Neo Nostradamuses, “public health’s” tellers can see far into the future: all they have to do is enter the right BS into the appropriate fields and press “enter”. One famous example is the WHO’s prediction that, by the year 2100, one billion people a year will die of “tobacco related diseases” while they still have to prove that just one person has ever been killed by smoking. They enlighten environmentalists by their catastrophic models of planetary doom and gloom, that get worse or better according to the approach of international conferences on climate and how best to screw up the planetary economy.
The latest product of contemporary fortune teller shysters is the prediction that “For the first time, U.S. life expectancy has surpassed 78 years, the government reported Wednesday. … The average life expectancy for babies born in 2006 was about four months greater than for children born in 2005.”
So there you have it: Nostradamus sees 76 years into the future. True, "expectancy" does not mean a guarantee, but have you ever seen a fortune teller giving you a guarantee? But, if things continue as they are today, one guarantee is there nevertheless: lawsuits galore and "epidemics" if life is a few months shorter than expected!
Be that as it may, like all smart tellers their predictions are very far into the future, and for a good reasons: whom of us living today is going to be around in 2084 to beat the hell out of those cons if there aren’t enough people born in 2006 who are still living? And who is going to make the WHO gangsters eat stale cigarette butts if at least one billion people do not punctually drop dead from smoking in 2101? Certainly not you. Certainly not us. And certainly not them, as they won’t be there to receive the punishment they so richly deserve. And even if, for an incredibly fortuitous case, one of them would still be alive, he would have already spent all the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the public baboon gave him in exchange for the virtual bananas of prediction.
So, you see, it is true: we are still suckers for fortune tellers; but today we don’t want them in funny hats such as that of the guy in the picture: we want them in white coats and with the appropriate audio-video effects. But the magic words still must be incomprehensible and unpronounceable, otherwise they are not credible.
How little Man has changed.