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The world of public intellectuals has been replaced by an inferior mob of "thought leaders", says Daniel Drezner in his new book The Ideas Industry. These thinkers, rather than examining the world as it is, tend to push "big ideas" with unscientific bases that catch the public imagination. For example, in his book The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell convinced the world that every skill requires 10,000 hours of practise to master, but a scientific study showed no evidence for this. Gladwell's magic number is, like many "big ideas", tantalising and entertaining, but a bad basis for any actual societal decisions.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.