Strategic Foresight Initiative Director Mathew Burrows writse for War on the Rocks on why fiction is key to understanding a different future:
ohn Maynard Keynes, the renowned 20th century British economist, once wrote that “the idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our conventional modes of thought and behavior that we, most of us, offer a great resistance to acting on it in practice.” Fiction is a great solvent, breaking down our resistance to imagining a radically different future. I recently published a book about the future that dared to be different; I devoted a third of the book to fiction because I thought that was the best way to get the reader’s attention about the increasing possibility of a different future. One of the four fictional stories I wrote for the book dealt with a possible future triggered by a nuclear war in the Middle East.
Why did I include a fictional story in a non-fiction book? Stories help to bring the point home in a way that streams of data are unable to accomplish. I think of myself as a highly analytical person. From my time as a CIA analyst to my present vocation in think tank world, I’ve generally been consumed with producing analytic work in one medium or another.