Saturday, October 2, 2010

#64: Gerald Celente

Celente is a “professional” trend forecaster and founder of the Trends Institute. He predicts future trends – in particular economic ones – with all the accuracy and razorsharp precision of a tabloid newspaper horoscope. He claims to have predicted more or less every major economic event in the last 30 years, establishing himself as a modern counterpart to Nostradamus. For example, Celente predicted on February 14, 1999, about the approaching millennial New Year, that, "Employers should anticipate several weeks of low productivity” and that children graduating in 2000 will "shape the new millenium." He has also predicted that America is going broke. A true wizard.

His method seems to be an Other Way of Knowing (intuition, mostly).

Curiously (or rather, unsurprisingly), he has received a lot of press, particularly from conservative sources – especially his assertions that American President Barack Obama's policies (described as “fascism light”) will lead to food riots and tax revolts. Indeed, Celente plays a major role in Conservap├Ždia’s article on Barack Obama.

He seems to be the instigator of the term “Obamageddon”, which is predicted to occur in 2012. Made on November 13, 2008: “[B]y 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.”

The basis for the prediction has, of course, all the rigorous underpinnings of the ordinary, “Mayan calendar” 2012 Armageddon. If nothing else, however, Celente and his reception among pundits provide a fascinating glimpse of the mechanisms of confirmation bias, goalpost moving and wishful thinking at work.

His website, interestingly, does not keep track of his previous predictions (apart from the ones that could be interpreted as having been fulfilled by some stretch). He does provide “trend summaries” – his summaries of events occurring the previous year.

Diagnosis: Probably a fraud, but his confirmation bias and wingnuttery is real enough. Very influential, something that provides more evidence (if any more was needed) for the ubiquity and danger of confirmation bias.

1 comment: