What does the future hold? Our enduring fascination with predicting the future is reflected on the silver screen, as excitement builds over the Blade Runner sequel. We continue being mesmerized by ancient prophecies, such as Nostradamus' Quatrains. And we certainly pay very well to pundits, economists, and intelligence analysts who try to predict coming social, economic, and political events. Unfortunately, this abiding interest in prediction has not translated into the ability to forecast future events with much accuracy.
Malcolm Gladwell is the best-selling author of books that explore the implications of behavioral science research on our lives and society. His books include Outliers, The Tipping Point, and What the Dog Saw. Last year, he launched a new podcast, Revisionist History, which recently began its second season. The podcast is dedicated to taking a closer look at the past, and Gladwell’s treatment of the events and people he examines is often informed by behavioral science.
Elvis counsels, “Before you abuse, criticize, and accuse … walk a mile in my shoes.” Dylan wishes, “For just one time, you could stand inside my shoes.” Paul McCartney asks us once again to try to see it his way. If you are The King, a Nobel laureate, or a knight—not to mention a rock star—perhaps it is reasonable to expect that everyone else should take your perspective. For the rest of us, if we hope that “we can work it out,” it seems vital for us to try harder and try smarter to understand others—especially these days.