, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 17–21 | Cite as

Peering into the Fog: Ecologic Change, Human Affairs, and the Future

  • Colin ButlerEmail author

For millennia, humans from diverse cultures have used oracles and omens, from entrails to comets, to try to read the future. Science and mathematics have long contributed to this effort, originally through astronomy but increasingly through the use of supercomputers allied with ever more sophisticated theories and datasets. For a while (before modern computers), the universe was likened to an enormous mechanical clock, and a conceit arose that given sufficient data, theory, and computational power, science might one day refine the prediction of human affairs to an accuracy approaching the plotting of planetary orbits. The more recent discoveries of relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory have shown the fallacy of this thinking and have even challenged the precision of astronomic forecasts.

Postmodernism has questioned other fundamentals, so that in some circles, definitive statements about even the present can seem audacious. However, the quest for the perfect should not...


Fair Trade Pessimistic Scenario Collective Imagination United Nations Population Division Rwandan Genocide 
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Copyright information

© EcoHealth Journal Consortium 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Centre for Epidemiology and Population HealthAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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