Posts Tagged ‘Prediction’


Anyone who isn’t yet reading The Archdruid Report really ought to be. John Michael Greer is quite simply one of the most brilliant writers in existence, and even when he’s wrong, he’s importantly wrong. His perspective is coherent, learned, and uncaged by the assumptions of progressivism. Above all, his understanding of what it means to find history informative is unsurpassed. (Over at the Other Place, there’s an unfinished Greer series that badly requires attention, with the first three installments here, here, and here.)

When escalated to the extreme, the progressive conclusion is that history can teach us nothing. Innovation is by its very nature unprecedented, and insofar as it manifests improvement, it humbles its precursors. The past is the rude domicile of ignorant barbarity. Insofar as the present still bears its traces, as shameful stigmata, they are mere remains that still have to be overcome. At the limit, the concept of Singularity — a horizon at which all anticipatory knowledge is annulled — seals the progressive intuition.

In its abstract theoretical core, at least, Greer’s Druidic counter-history is radically reactionary (far more unambiguously so than NRx). Its model of time is entirely cyclical, such that past and future are perfectly neutral between ascent and decline. Every attempt to install a gradient of improvement in the dimension of historical time is broken upon the great wheels, which balance every rise with a fall, dissolving innovation in precedent. Novelty is hubristic illusion (an exaggerated correction, in the opinion of this blog).

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July 10, 2014admin 37 Comments »

Expected Unknowns

Nouriel Roubini has a short article up at Project Syndicate on The Changing Face of Global Risk, replacing the top six dangers of recent years with an equal number of new ones. There’s nothing remarkably implausible about it, but neither is it irresistibly convincing.

This type of forecast, were it reliable, would be of inestimable value. To some considerable degree it is simply inescapable, since there must always be default expectations (of the kind occasionally formalized as Bayesian priors). When specific probability-weighted predictions are not made, future-sensitive agents do not fall back upon poised skepticism — such Pyrrhonism is a philosophico-mystical attainment of extreme rarity. Instead, presumed outcomes are projected out of sheer inertia, whether as perpetuation of the status quo, or the mechanical extrapolation of existing trends. It takes only a moment of reflection to recognize that such tacit forecasts are at least as precarious as their more elaborate alternatives. Their only recommendation is an irrational mental economy, which would find in the least-effort of cognition some analogy with the superficially equivalent (but in this case informative) principle in nature.

Large-scale forecasting cannot be eschewed, but there are obvious reasons why it cannot be greatly trusted. It has no definite methods (relying for its credibility on hazy reputational capital). Its objects are complex, chaotic, and — once again — poorly defined. It has a restricted time frame, appropriate to gradually emerging developments constrained (to some degree) by historical precedent, but necessarily inadequate to radical innovation and to sudden, rapidly evolving events. The combination of these various blindnesses with a high-impact chance event produces the nightmare of the forecasters — (Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s) black swan.

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April 3, 2014admin 11 Comments »

2014: A Prophecy

As has been said innumerable times before, any prophecy concerning outcomes that involve the ‘prophet’ as an agent are seriously suspect. For the (apparent) moment, such concerns are being pushed¬†up the road into the future.

There they have already made themselves ‘at home’ — along with much else related to the general phenomenon of prediction (which is strictly indistinguishable from time travel, when incisively understood). Present knowledge of the future is an action of the future upon the present, but all that can wait, since — of course — it doesn’t need to.

For now, the Prophecy:¬†2014 is the year in which Neoreaction tears itself apart. This is not at all to say, the year in which it dies. On the contrary, it will end the year strengthened in ways it has not to this point envisaged, having carved out vast tracts of clarity, hardened itself through close intellectual combat, refined its methods of de-synthesis (or catabolism), and — most importantly of all — made schism an internal dynamic principle. What integrates Neoreaction by the end of the year will no longer be elective tenets (reflecting the more-or-less precarious ideological preferences of individuals) but conflict-toughened structures of objective micro-cultural cohesion, selected and sculpted by many months of ferocious storms.

The approximate contours of these impending ruptures will provide the content for the first 2014 Prognoses post (which is already overdue). In anticipation, it need only be noted: the Dark Enlightenment finds nothing external to itself that is hard enough to sharpen its claws. It has feasted on soft, fat, bleating lambs long enough. Thus the introverted ripping begins …

ADDED: Rigorous evidence for time travel still thin.

January 5, 2014admin 37 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction