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The Fortune Sellers : The Big Business of Buying and Selling Predictions

The Fortune Sellers : The Big Business of Buying and Selling Predictions

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"An ambitious, intelligent, and very readable guide to understanding our present and our future." —Harry Beckwith, Principal, Beckwith Advertising and Marketing and author of Selling the Invisible

No one can foretell the future. Or can they? There are many who purport to —and they are making a fortune. From meteorologists who give us our daily weather forecasts to investment advisers who project tomorrow's hottest stock, these and numerous other prognosticating professionals are part ofa multibillion-dollar industry that's growing every day. No longer merely fortunetellers, they are fortune sellers, offering us a commodity we're more than eager to buy: the future.

In this piercing and provocative exposé, William Sherden, a seasoned consultant and expert on business forecasting, casts an unblinking eye on the booming business of predicting the future, from its major players to the ultimate validity and value of the information they proffer. Debunking false prophecy and analyzing assertions of forecasting skill, Sherden separates fact from fallacy to show us not only how best to use the forecasts we're given, but how to "select the nuggets of valuable future advice from amongst the $200 billion worth of mostly erroneous futurepredictions put forth each year."

The Fortune Sellers contains in-depth explorations of the seven most prevalent forecasting professions today —meteorology, economics, investments, technology assessment, demography, futurology, and organizational planning. As Sherden uncovers their historical roots and traces their track records, he deftly reveals just how accurate —or inaccurate —their predictions really are. Fascinating historical facts, scores of actual examples, and a wealth of eye-opening statistics illuminate the difference between reliable real-world information and spurious guesswork. In The Fortune Sellers, you'll discover how:

  • Anyone who is counting on a weather forecast more than a day or two in advance might just as well flip a coin
  • Economics earned its nickname —the "dismal science" —and why it sticks
  • Profits from prediction work on Wall Street
  • Academia, business, and the media feed our fascination with science fact and fiction and future technology
  • Futurists —predictors of societal change —use the infirm foundations of social science to predict everything from utopia to techno-totalitarianism
  • Prognosticators failed to predict many milestone events, including the stock market crash of 1929, the recession of the 1980s, and the fall of East Berlin.

An intriguing and utterly fascinating exploration of the methods and the madness of today's growing number of future "experts," The Fortune Sellers is not to be missed —and that's no speculation.