• It's easy to pick on wine critics, as I certainly have in the past. Wine is a complex and intoxicating substance, and the tongue is a crude sensory muscle. While I've argued that the consistent inconsistency of oenophiles teaches us something interesting about the mind – expectations warp reality – they are merely part of a larger category of experts vastly overselling their predictive powers.
  • A brain-scanning study of people making financial choices suggests that when given expert advice, the decision-making parts of our brains often shut down.

    The problem with this, of course, is that the advice may not be good.

    "When the expert’s advice made the least sense, that’s where we could see the behavioral effect," said study co-author Greg Berns, an Emory University neuroscientist. "It’s as if people weren’t using their own internal value mechanisms."

  • "The concept of a pirate haven is not new. Mogadishu and Aceh in Sumatra are merely the latest examples in a history of feral places turned pirate bases that spans both the globe and the ages. A brief look back in time offers several examples of locales where piracy has flourished. Common to nearly all of them is the existence of a city beyond the control of any legitimate, recognized government where pirates called the shots and business was conducted on their terms. New Providence, Port Royal, Canton, Petit Goave, Madagascar, and Barataria were merely precursors to the lawless pirate strongholds of today and provide a glimpse into what may be in store for the future."

  • "Richard Norton, a Naval War College scholar who has developed a taxonomy of what he calls feral cities, says that there are numerous places slipping toward Mogadishu, perhaps the only fully feral city nowadays. As public services disintegrate, residents are forced to hire private security or pay criminals for protection. … As cities around the world descend into disorder, the United States may have to step up training local militaries to undertake armed interventions. Writing in The Naval War College Review last fall, Norton warned that ''traditionally, problems of urban decay and associated issues, such as crime, have been seen as domestic issues best dealt with by internal security or police forces. That will no longer be an option.'' "

  • The Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures is the home of long-term forecasting and global trend analysis at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies on the University of Denver campus. The core of the Center's forecasting efforts is the Patterns of Potential Human Progress (PPHP) series. This project is producing a series of annual volumes on human development topics, beginning with global poverty reduction, forthcoming in the fall of 2008. Each volume will include extensive tables with long-term country-level forecasts across the various issue areas of the International Futures (IFs) model. Other Center activities will include additional reports, publications, workshops and training programs. The Center works with issue-specific and geographically-based groups around the world that share the Center’s interest in evaluating and exploring the human condition from a long-term perspective.

  • "International Futures (IFs) is a large-scale, long-term, integrated global modeling system. It represents demographic, economic, energy, agricultural, socio-political, and environmental subsystems for 183 countries interacting in the global system. The central purpose of IFs is to facilitate exploration of global futures through alternative scenarios. The model is integrated with a large database containing values for its many foundational data series since 1960."

  • "In March, April, and May 2008 three workshops were convened on behalf of the National Intelligence Council's Long-Range Analysis Unit in support of the NIC's 2025 global trends effort. This report summarizes the findings of three workshops on the security environment in 2025 and develops themes raised at the workshops but not fully elaborated due to time constraints. It describes a baseline scenario in which currently observable trends continue to reduce the incidence and salience of interstate warfare, while the diffusion of technology and demographic trends increases the potential scope and intensity of intrastate conflict and warfare conducted by non-state actors. The impact of nuclear proliferation on the environment of 2025 is explicitly addressed. A key finding is that the potential increase in actors armed with nuclear weapons could increase instability in the zone from the eastern Mediterranean to and including Pakistan."

  • "Scenario planning has become an increasingly important strategic planning tool as more corporations, organizations, and government agencies begin to use scenarios. This publication presents a set of three interdisciplinary, global scenarios to 2025 that provide different pictures of possible futures."