If you can read this, then the world didn’t end at the weekend. Either that, or they’ve got Internet in heaven (or, perhaps more likely, a Boingo hotspot in hell).

Let’s take a moment to remember that prophecies of doom have been a favourite of self-aggrandising charlatans, charismatic phonies and eloquent bullshitters for centuries. They can sound pretty smart, right up until their prediction gets tested. When the apocalypse fails to materialise on schedule, what’s the usual defence? “I was right about everything but the date.”

Assuming we all agree that nothing lasts forever, the key component of a prophecy of doom is its timescale. Get that wrong, and you’ve got nothing right at all. Keep adjusting it, and you’re crying “Wolf!” again and again.

Next time somebody tells you that an industry or art form is doomed, ask them when we should expect the inevitable.

If they won’t commit, they’ve got nothing to say. If they give you a date, don’t be afraid of holding them to it. It’s the only real test of their soothsaying abilities and, so far, they’ve all got it wrong. That doesn’t mean there will be no end. It just means there are better things for us to do than to sit around trying to predict it.


One Comment

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  1. May 28, 2011

    Sadly, you’re right: I’ve been trying to predict, with increasing fervency, the end of Phil Collins: sadly, none of my predictions have, as yet, come true. It won’t stop me trying, though: one day, I’ll be right, and the world of pop music will be an Infinitely Better Place…

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