“Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future.”
I think one of the hardest parts about talking to people is when then insist that something will happen, particularly when it applies to something that surely is not predictable. The best example is anything to do with investing. Stocks, real-estate, interest rates, it seems as if everyone has a (strong) opinion on what’s going to happen. But really, if they were even moderately good at predicting this stuff, they could make a boat load of money. So far, I haven’t met anyone who has been successful.
One of the most difficult parts about these kinds of things is that our brains are wired to generalize the past (that we’ve experienced). People who got burned in the latest recession are convinced that stocks are terrible investments that only go down, others whose condos have risen in value in recent years believe that it will continue forever, and there are hundreds of other examples of people who will try to convince you of some other eventuality about the future. When you step back and think about it, why the heck are people so intent on convincing you that their prediction is true? I think many times it’s less about convincing you and more about convincing themselves. Because if there’s one other thing that are brains are wired to do is to never contradict our worldly view.
The best any of us can do is just be aware of these inherent biases in others as well as ourselves. Human nature is almost impossible to change but being aware of it is the first step in charting a new course. It looks like it’s going to be sunny tomorrow, guess I’ll bring an umbrella.