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Monthly Discussion

 

 

Success Stories

 

 

Discussing success stories concerning predictions in Predictions that have come true is more than sheer self-advertising. Confirmed trends become predictions themselves, but now they carry more weight than the first time around.

Listed below are such predictions in striking agreement with what happened during the 10-15 years that followed.

Prediction made in Predictions

(based on data up to the late 1980s)

Outcome

The rate of AIDS fatalities in the US will stop growing by mid 1990s.

Many experts today wonder why the AIDS threat had been so over-estimated.

There will be some event that will dramatically reduce coal production in the UK

One month after the publication of Predictions the UK government ordered the closing of 61% of all mining pits in the country.

Speed limits in the US will drift upwards.

Speed limits have been systematically raised across the country, and states like Nebraska experimented with lifting them all together.

Nuclear accidents will drop to about one every five years

There have been no nuclear accidents to speak off.

Nuclear energy as a source of primary energy is far from dead.

The Bush administration is seriously considering a revival of nuclear energy.

 

But more precisely I include below updates of four drawings that appeared in Chapter 8 of Predictions. In each drawing the energy consumption cycle serves as clock timing the Kontratieff economic wave. The new data points are indicated with dark circles permitting a visual comparison with the predicted trend (rose band).

The first drawing, Exhibit 3, shows that as we come out of a boom, banks begin to have difficulties that lead into recession and economic hardship. But as the difficulties intensify so does the appearance of innovations and discoveries in general (hard times are fertile times!) Lacking data on the appearance of recent basic innovations (a personal compilation would be too easily branded as subjective), I use data on patents to update this graph.

 

Activities That Echo the Energy Consumption Cycle

 

Exhibit 3. There are two sets of data for innovations. Before 1960 the data come from Gerhard Mensch's book Stalemate in Technology. The update points (dark circles) refer to the appearance of patents, and in particular, to % deviation from the growing trend of patents. There are three sets of data for bank failures: bank suspensions before 1933, banks closed due to financial difficulties between 1940-1985, and percentage of banks loosing money for the period 1985-1999 (dark circles). In all graphs, the dark circles indicate recent data not included in Predictions.

 

Exhibit 4 demonstrates the coupling between energy prices and the type of primary energy used. In particular the figure points out that energy prices flare up regularly and periodically (about every 56 years) around the midpoint of the energy cycle, when the primary energy in question dominates the world market. Oil prices increased manifold around 1981 when oil's market share was maximum. Since that time, the market share of oil has been declining and the next manifold flare up of energy price should be around 2030 and should rather concern the price of natural gas. Appropriately the updated data points on annual averages of oil prices (black dots) have been hovering at the expected level.

 

Energy Prices, Consumption, and Substitution, All Synchronized

 

Exhibit 4. Annual averages for the price of energy and the substitution of energy types for the worldwide energy consumption (only the idealized trends are shown here; the reader is referred to the Newsletter issue of June 18, 2001 for the full details). The black triangles point at the peak of each primary energy source's dominance. These points in time coincide with price flares and the beginning of economic decline. Energy prices during the last 15 years (black dots) nicely conform to the expected trend.

 

In Exhibits 5 and 6 the reader will find updates of a number of indicators that describe various aspects of our lives. In all cases the variation is cyclical and resonates with Kontratieff's cycle. In all case the new data (dark circles) conform with the trend and enhance the cyclical character of the indicator in question. For example, during the late 1980s and the 1990s, life expectancy increased and so did the performance in breaking the one-mile run record, while fatalities from cirrhosis of the liver were down. All this corroborates the picture that people sober up during hard times that have a beneficial effect on health (the reader must remember that the time period in question, late 80s to early 90s, was a time of a serious recession in the US). And feminism has indeed been going down, if we "measure" it via the female content of Nobel Prize laureates.

 

More Phenomena Pulsating with the Energy Consumption Cycle

Exhibit 5. The graphs on life expectancy and the one-mile run record have been obtained in a way similar to the energy consumption, namely as a percentage deviation of the data from a fitted S-curve trend. The number of women Nobel laureates is expressed as a percentage of all laureates in a decade. For the case of cirrhosis the annual mortality is used.

 

Homicides and criminality in general have declined during the last 15 years as had been predicted in Predictions. A couple of years ago The New Yorker referred to the lowering of criminality as an "epidemic" that had subsided. Homicides can be expected to decline even further as we plow into more prosperous years. Similarly the woman-to-man ratio as the victim in homicides has remained within the predicted band. However, there is evidence for significant discrepancy concerning the use of murder weapon.

 

Morbid Activities Also Resonate with the Same Rhythm

Exhibit 6. Homicides, the murder weapon, and the ratio of women to man as victim. With the exception of the murder weapon, recent data (black dots) confirm the predicted trends.

 

The pictured that emerged in Predictions had murderers show a preference for stabbing men during economic recessions and shooting at women during economic booms. But from Exhibit 6 we see that murderers have refused to really give up the gun during the 1990s. The knife-to-gun ration should have continued upward for longer before declining again (see 3rd graph down). This ratio is supposed to decline (i.e. guns begin become popular again) during boom years, and we are not there yet (next boom is due around 2020). Perhaps, the precautious economic recovery in America (see monthly discussion in the Newsletter of April 23, 2001) combined with the gun's relentless popularity may have "confused" murderers into using the gun prematurely, instead of the knife that would have been more "natural" at this time.

 

By and large the above predictions from Predictions have been confirmed. Therefore the purple bands in the exhibits can now serve as forecasts with enhanced confidence. Surprises are to be expected only for situations where an indicator grows (or declines) faster than "normal", be it a stock-market index or the popularity of guns.