It’s fitting that “Predicting the Future,” the latest episode in the National Geographic docuseries “Breakthrough
,” probably didn’t turn out the way that anyone involved had planned it would. Not ten minutes into the episode, there’s polarizing statistician Nate
Silver, in an interview from weeks, maybe even months, before the 2016 presidential election, with his take on the numbers.
“Most people, when you say 70/30, they don’t quite know that means. They don’t know what that 30 percent feels like,” Silver says.
Six months into the reality of that 30 percent probability, there’s a dark push-pull happening in this episode. As professionals from various predictive industries — actuaries, astronomers, city sanitation experts — give the audience a glimpse into their corner of the future, there’s the unspoken acknowledgment that people may not like what they find. As a result, “Predicting the Future” ends up presenting the viewers with competing visions of the future,