The Future Always Surprises Us: Mark Earls

Why did the U.S. and most other nations around the world do such a poor job of preparing for and reacting to the global COVID-19 pandemic? After all, we had earlier outbreaks, from HIV-AIDS to SARS, MERS, H1N1 and the Ebola virus.

In his widely viewed 2015 Ted Talk, Bill Gates warned that "if anything kills more than ten million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus."  We knew about the danger, but failed to act. 

This episode looks at why humans are so bad at preparing for the future and how we can improve our thinking. Marketing strategist, Mark Earls, has studied behavior change for many years. He's the author of "Herd: How to Change Mass Behavior by Harnessing Our True Nature", and "Copy Copy Copy". Mark is now writing a new book, "Memories of Our Future."

When we plan for what's ahead "we should consider multiple futures", says Mark. This doesn't usually happen, and "we find it much easier to have a simple story about how we got here. We overstate our confidence in the causality."

Recommendations: Jim is now reading "Pacific", by Simon Winchester, a biography of the Pacific Ocean region and its role in the modern world.


See for privacy and opt-out information.