An ambitious manual explores what it takes to create a desirable future.
Predicting the future may be nothing more than a dream for many, but having an impact on how things turn out is distinctly possible, writes Nahum (Predicting the Future, 2014). He believes that humans “generally take a structured approach” to influencing future events. They assess their present lives, set targets, plan, and take actions to realize their goals. The broad objective of Nahum’s intriguing work is to shed light on and perhaps formalize this future-making process, providing tools and techniques for achieving success. The comprehensive book begins with a discussion of the relationship of the present and the past to the future. The past takes on special meaning, asserts Nahum, both because it leads to the present and allows readers to learn from history. Subsequent chapters delve into events and circumstances that impact the future, focusing on how to use observations to make predictions, how to create or change “trajectories” that decide outcomes, and how to manage things that can go wrong. The content is often captivating and compelling, yet stylistically, the text can at times devolve into somewhat wordy, esoteric explanations. For example: “Because our environment has the intrinsic propensity to manifest rapid, unpredictable changes, it is a triumph that our species has been able to identify and cordon off portions of it that are both smooth and stable.” This is not to say that the guide is not filled with useful information. The process for evaluating any situation, for instance, is broken into five logical steps, each of which is not just simply described, but augmented with finely constructed examples as well. In fact, these examples, liberally sprinkled throughout the book, are what really illuminate the text and enrich its relevancy. Also helpful are the “Main Takeaway Points,” interspersed sections that summarize the material in bullets, and the final chapter, which offers a review of the volume’s strategies. Thirteen appendices are useful but provide far more detail than average readers could comfortably consume.
Textbook-like in its readability, but nonetheless enlightening and instructional about the art of making predictions.