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Predictions for 2009 - do they work?

December 31, 2008

Predictions for 2009
When they work, when they don't, why we like them, and what to do instead

Toronto, ON –– December 31, 2008 –– This is the time of year for predictions about the upcoming year. After all the failed predictions of 2008, you would expect people to be wary of those who claim to be able to foretell the future. But it is in our nature to want to know what will happen.

"Of course there is the practical aspect that if we know what will happen we can prepare accordingly," says Randy Park, author of The Prediction Trap and specialist in preparing for the future. "And in many cases we do predict the future. For example, every day engineers predict that a bridge will stand. But frequently our brains, our experience, and our methods conspire to give us false confidence in our predictions."

The human brain evolved in a time when the most important predictions applied to physical phenomenon like throwing a rock, the rising of the sun, or upcoming weather. Thus our thinking processes and intuition are best tuned to these types of situations. Over time humans developed mathematics and physics to describe the physical world and our understanding improved.
In recent years, economists have attempted to use mathematical approaches similar to those used in physics and engineering in order to describe economic movement. But physicists and engineers recognize that unless you can completely describe the relevant variables or constrain the situation then mathematical models cannot be applied.

"Physics can accurately describe the motion and acceleration of a ball rolling down a hill. If you release the same ball from the same position it will always taken the same path. But if a dog runs out and grabs the ball, all bets are off ," says Randy Park.

It is important to recognize that thousands of people are making contradictory predictions every day. Statistically some of them will be right. And with today's information connectivity, it is easy for those who guessed right to be noticed. People then assume they had special insight or powers, when in reality it may have been just simple luck. And those who guessed wrong are not newsworthy.

Though there is much to learn from the past, extrapolating from the past to the future is "The Prediction Trap" referred to in the title of Randy's recently released book.

"Especially in times of turmoil, rational decision making tends to suffer. When we are uncertain and confused, we look to the past for guidance," says Randy Park. "But often, as is the case with this unusual financial situation, that is the last place we should look."

Instead, the most effective approach for dealing with the future is to examine the range of factors that might affect outcomes, analyze the possible consequences, and then see if there is a practical way to act no matter which outcome unfolds.

Beyond predicting that the sun will rise tomorrow there are very few sure things. But since there are lots of people willing to make predictions, some will always be right.

About Randy Park

Randy Park, B.Sc., M.Eng., is the author of the new book The Prediction Trap which deals with how humans attempt to predict the future. Eric Reguly, Chief European Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, says of The Prediction Trap "Randy Park's stimulating book is a must-read for anyone who wants to confront the temptation to sacrifice long-term planning for short-term gratification."

Randy is an expert in the practical aspects of how people think and make decisions. He facilitates better thinking and stimulates people and organizations to think more strategically and consider the consequences of their decisions. His dynamic keynote speeches, workshops, articles, e-newsletters and media interviews help people understand their own thinking processes.
Randy's first book, Thinking for Results - Success Strategies helps readers improve their day-to-day thinking. His new book The Prediction Trap deals with how humans attempt to predict the future, the pitfalls this entails, and strategies to work collaboratively and better prepare for the future.

Randy is a Professional Member of Canadian Association Of Professional Speakers (CAPS), the association of choice for experts who speak professionally.
To schedule an interview with Randy Park, or request a copy of his books, please contact him directly at:
416-567-9540 Mobile
416-703-9202 Office

Visit for articles and insights into decision making and critical thinking.

For more information contact:
Randy Park
Author, Speaker
Thinking for Results
Phone: 416-703-9202
Cell: 416-567-9540

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