The Future Is Not For The Faint of Heart
by Jake Block
In the 1964 movie The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (based on the book The Circus of Dr. Lao, by Charles G. Finney), staring Tony Randall, the Mysterious Dr. Lao comes to Abalone, Arizona, bringing his circus and sideshow with him. In one of the carnival tents, we find the town spinster, Mrs. Cassin having her fortune told by the ancient Apollonius of Tyana.
“Apollonius of Tyana: Tomorrow will be like today, and the day after tomorrow will be like the day before yesterday. I see your remaining days as a tedious collection of hours full of useless vanities. You will think no new thoughts. You will forget what little you have known. Older you will become, but not wiser. Stiffer, but not more dignified. Childless you are, and childless you will remain. Of that suppleness you once commanded in your youth, of that strange simplicity which once attracted men to you, neither endures, nor shall you recapture them.
Mrs. Cassin: You’re a mean, ugly man!
Apollonius of Tyana: Mirrors are often ugly and mean. When you die, you will be buried and forgotten, and that is all. And for all the good or evil, creation or destruction, your living might have accomplished, you might just as well never have lived at all. I’m sorry, but you see, it is my curse to tell the absolute truth.”
It’s a pretty well known fact that a large segment of humanity is obsessed with the future and spend a lot of time and money in trying to determine what their future will be as seen in the cards, crystals, tossed bones or even the palms of their own hands. While many would think that only the gullible or addled might be on the phone to their psychic for advice, the clientele can be anything from the lonely woman looking for love to politicians, scientists, business people and beyond. Some great minds have looked to the psychic services for answers. Among them were Sir Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein and Carl Jung.
Colonel Harlan Sanders, the Kentucky Fried Chicken mogul routinely invited his psychic to the corporate board meetings to offer insights. Nancy Reagan, wife of the 40th President of the United States was known to consult psychics and to pass on their advice to her husband. Presidents who themselves were known to have sought the advice of psychics are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been said to have used psychics… if I were them, I would ask for a refund!
Across the pond, Queen Elizabeth I consulted psychics, as did Napoleon III. Princess Diana was fond of astrologers and psychics. Prime Minister Tony Blair regularly consulted with spiritual advisors and psychics.
Hollywood and show business stars? Brad Pitt, Patrick Swayze, Angelina Jolie, Denise Richards, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Kenny Rogers, William Shatner, Regis Philbin, Suzanne Sommers, Ed McMahon, David Hasselhoff, Dick Clark, Ashton Kutcher, Liza Minelli, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Linda Evans, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez, have been clients.
Billionaire J.P. Morgan once said, “Millionaires don’t have astrologers; billionaires do.” Andrew Carnegie was only a millionaire (340 million) and he had a live in psychic on his estate.
Billions is where it’s at, according to the IBISWorld Report. Established in 1971, IBISWorld provides fully researched, dependable and up-to-date industry intelligence and statistical analysis. They wrote: “One curious US industry has been growing along with the rest of the country’s economy: psychic services.” While psychics’ business got hit by the recession, the industry been expanding steadily since 2010. They noted that “those in the industry — including people involved in palmistry, cartomancy, mediumship, aura readings and astrology — have about $2 billion in revenue a year. Roughly 85,000 people work in psychic services and make about $1.5 billion in total wages a year.” They also note that there has been as steady growth of +/- 2.2% per year.
So many people want to know the future and, as we can see by the statistics on “psychic services,” they’re willing to go to some extraordinary lengths to see that future in advance. Believe in the idea of clairvoyance, or write it off as some one who is highly intuitive and able to extrapolate possible outcomes from the facts provided, there’s little doubt that there are millions of people who, in the absence of a “scientific” method, will choose (and it’s their right to choose and to believe) an option not available elsewhere. If the advice they receive through the counsel of “psychics,” or “life coaches,” if you will , satisfies them, it’s their money… their time. If not, then they will vote with their wallet not to patronize the provider of that service. They might find another provider or they could try another option to find the answers they seek.
It’s not such a far fetched notion… humans being able to foretell the future. Businesses and governments pay “big bucks” for people who do just that. They’re called “futurists,” and their mission is to take what information they are able to glean on trends and possibilities, based on current policies, and see where they think that things will go in the future. Stock trends, consumer trends, government trends, fashion trends, cultural shift; all these fall within the purview of the futurist. Sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are wrong, but If the advice they receive through the counsel of “futurists” or “trend analysts,” if you will, satisfies them, it’s their money… their time. If not, then they will vote with their wallet not to patronize the provider of that service. They might find another provider or they could try another option to find the answers they seek.
Now, I’m not arrogant enough to say that I know all of the answers to to what is in the future, nor am I closed minded enough to say that all “psychics and life coaches” are simply charlatans plying their trade to the gullible and easily conned. The reason is that I have seen people who can indeed intuit very possible outcomes from information given and be successful at “X” level of accuracy. Sure, it could be “dumb luck.” But they’re advice is acceptable enough to those who seek their counsel that they manage to stay in business for decades. Could it be that they do, on a human basis, what computers do… work on a “go-no go” set of options? Could it be that some people actually do have an ability to tap into areas of their brain that allow them to intuit with a greater degree of accuracy? And certainly, they do make mistakes… errors in judgement or extrapolative logic. But then, so too do computers, from the basic desk PC to supercomputers, hence the computer age adage, “garbage in, garbage out.”
We have computer labs… basic to advanced… in which the operation and capabilities of computers are dispassionately analyzed in a systematic way, without preconception. Computers fail… and those failures are analyzed and cataloged. Computers succeed, and those successes are researched, codified and tested again for replication. Scientific methodology works for such things, as data collected can be analyzed and accepted or rejected based on numbers that can be tested. The human mind, a bio-electric machine might be tested as well, through brain scans and the tracking of brain wave activities in those who seem to possess an elevated level of intuition. Perhaps with a longitudinal study of the minds of “futurists, psychics, etc.,” we might finally come to some logical consensus as to the efficacy of mind-based predictability.
We can see that “science” mimics and in some cases improves upon the traditional and even ancient methodologies of divining the future. But the need is still there. People want to know for a variety of reasons, some personal and some professional, some for monetary gain and some for enhancement of the “soul.” Tarot cards become logarithmic chains, crystal balls become binary sequences, and sheer intuition becomes “dead reckoning” and clinical trial. In the end, “as above, so below,” it all boils down to guesswork, and as we learned in the military, there are “guesses,” and “wild ass guesses.” It’s a gamble, either in low or high tech, but the wise man learns that the final determination of acceptability remains in the personal domain. In a brave new world where the mind and machine can both both be used as precognitive tools, only time can truly tell the future, and its impact on us all.