Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics
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Predicting the Future in Science, Economics, and Politics

Edited by Frank Whelon Wayman, Paul R. Williamson, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Solomon Polachek

It is a puzzle that while academic research has increased in specialization, the important and complex problems facing humans urgently require a synthesis of understanding. This unique collaboration attempts to address such a problem by bringing together a host of prominent scholars from across the sciences to offer new insights into predicting the future. They demonstrate that long-term trends and short-term incentives need to be understood in order to adopt effective policies, or even to comprehend where we currently stand and the sort of future that awaits us.
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Editor’s introduction to Part II

Frank Whelon Wayman


Edward O. Wilson’s personal interest in the unification of physical, biologic al, and social science provides an ideal orientation to the themes of our book – a book which aims to integrate diverse scientific efforts to predict the future of the human condition on a global scale. In his 1998 book Consilience, Wilson calls for a renewal of the Enlightenment project of combining scientific endeavors to improve human understanding and well-being. From the elegant prose of Consilience to the liberal use of partial derivatives in Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Professor Wilson bridges the two cultures of letters and numbers. Professor Wilson’s Sociobiology, published in 1975, was a path-breaking effort to examine the biological basis of social behavior. As he wrote 30 years ago, one might also say today, it “remains to be seen” whether “sociology and the other social sciences, as well as the humanities,” are to be “the last branches of biology waiting to be included in the Modern [neo-Darwinist] synthesis” (Wilson 1975 [2000]: 4). In Consilience, two decades later, Professor Wilson continued to contribute to the quest for unification of knowledge, from physics and biology to anthropology and the arts. In Chapter 3, we take that journey with his help, as he writes on human nature (the title of one of his books; Wilson 1978). Wilson’s chapter is immediately followed by a closely connected contribution, Richard Alexander’s Chapter 4, “Darwin’s Challenges and the Future of Human Society.”

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