Thursday, September 17, 2009

Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder

“Those who prophesy the future have tended to fall into one of two categories, both of them mistaken: those who say we have seen it all before, that there is nothing new under the sun; and those who say the world is entirely new, we have to start completely afresh. Today's false prophets fall far more into the second category than the first. Most have been seduced by short-termism, the distinguishing intellectual vice of the late 20th and early 21st century. For the first time in recorded history, there is nowadays a widespread conviction that the experience of all previous generations save our own is irrelevant [...]. Our political culture is dominated by an unprecedented malady: Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder or HASDD […]. Disrespect for the long-term past produces two serious intellectual disorders. First, the delusion that what is newest is necessarily most advanced […]. And second, the belief that interpreting the present and forecasting the future require an understanding only of the recent past. Little of real importance about future trends, however, can be deduced from the study of a mere generation of human experience.”

Christopher Andrew

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