Past performance is not a predictor of future results

As it says on my About page, “The driver of an accelerating car about to hit a brick wall might well say ‘so far so good’ – but that does not mean that the wall is not there!”John Dryzek (2005: 70).

“So far so good… No! Wait!… Oh shi…”

This is the almost-ubiquitous advice of stockbrokers but, sadly, it is almost universally ignored. As ccgwebmaster recently observed wryly in a comment on this very blog:

I have never died before. Does this mean I can presume upon my immortality?

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to make a few suggestions to all those who think concern for the environment is a false alarm, a new religion, or an excuse to curtail your freedom or tax you more heavily: 1. Grow up. 2. Go back to school. 3. Open your eyes and look out the window. 4. Stop cherry-picking data that reinforces your prejudice. 5. Stop ignoring all the data that contradicts your misperception of reality. 6. Read this Wikipedia article on the New World Order – it might just open up your mind. 7. Read this Skeptical Science article on the History of Climate Science – it might just resolve your confusion.


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Cognitive Dissonance, Confirmation Bias, Denial, Environment, Insanity, Junk Science, Politics, Pseudo science, Psychology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Past performance is not a predictor of future results

  1. ccgwebmaster says:

    If I could work out how one could possibly get the information into the brain of a pathologically optimistic person in the first place, I’d be pushing this link more (or more precisely the research it refers to)… There’s a nasty catch 22 – if one is inappropriately optimistic about climate change, one is also likely to be inappropriately optimistic in being presented with the scientific evidence for your inappropriate optimism, meaning your brain will still reject the new information. Most unhelpful, but at least illuminating! I suspect it may relate to normalcy bias, but don’t believe the research precisely addressed that (our tendency to think in linear process terms rather than positive feedback ones is also a handicap). It isn’t just deniers that this affects – it also inhibits the ability of even those who understand the climate change situation to assess and respond to the risks. So before one gets smug about not being a denier, one should still reflect – is one being inappropriately optimistic?


    • Rick Altman says:

      All, sadly, very true. Dr Tari Sharot has called this ‘Optimism Bias’ and suggested it is an evolutionary survival mechanism (one which has mutated into a self-destructive mechanism due to a self-inflicted threat). See:


    • pendantry says:

      It’s weird: even as a teenager, I recall wondering whether intelligence was counterproductive. Current indications are that, indeed, it is.


      • ccgwebmaster says:

        Had that thought when younger too. Stand by my conclusion that if you want a solid evolutionary lineage big sharp teeth are the way to go (sharks, crocodiles) though arguably earthworms must be doing something right too… It’s an interesting addition to the problem of large distances for interstellar travel. Statistically advanced intelligence must arise on countless planets in the universe. What is the probability of if persisting long enough to wisely and sustainably travel out into the universe, versus destroying itself fulfilling short term evolutionary urges though? Correlate that with the distances and short lived nature of intelligence, and the probability of meeting the neighbours is vanishingly small. Still, if one has it, one might as well try to use it.


      • pendantry says:

        Yep, I feel pretty sure that in the case of homo fatuus brutus, L in the Drake equation is about as big as a pair of centipedes strutting around the park wearing thermal underwear and singing “Jerusalem”.


  2. Pingback: Another Week in the Planetary Crisis, April 21, 2013 – A Few Things Ill Considered

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s