That post about the Post Office contained an intriguing concept. It accuses the USPS of acting like Kodak, which hung onto its chemical film business even after the digital camera was invented. The syndrome is “looking at the future as a variant of the present.”
This is how most predictions of the future are made. Take a current fact or trend and project it into the future and extrapolate it into infinity. I think of the “Tomorrowland” features on the old Walt Disney show that I used to watch as a kid, predicting what life would be like in the year 2000. Air transportation really had taken off in the early 1960′s, so we would have individual jet packs to fly around with by the year 2000. Food technology–nutritional analysis, manufacturing, packaging–was exciting at the time, so by the year 2000 we could get our nutrition from pills and squeeze tubes.
None of these came true, of course. The predictions ignored what is unchanging in human nature (our desire for safety and security; our love of eating) and they basically just were commentaries on their own, now dated, times. Disney, of course, could not have predicted what computers would actually be used for (not housekeeping or as personal butlers, in that age when people were impressed with new housekeeping technology such as toasters and vaccuum cleaners), much less the invention of the internet.
I see this projection of the present into the future in political analysis, demographic studies, public policies , and cultural studies (such as those that predict where the church will be in the next decades). Can you give examples?