Before I begin again, I want to note that I have nothing against historians and very little against statisticians. Indeed, I suspect that studying these fields will make you better at whatever field you work in. I simply doubt they hold the answers that some of their more zealous members claim to have. Although the general idea is that if you can plot the lines that came before, you may be able to guess the shape of things to come, hindsight is not, as the prophet says, 20/20. Our perspectives on history are not objective or exhaustive. It is a unique perspective with varying degrees of accuracy.
Another option, if the past fails us, is to attempt to expand our vision of the present. While we cannot really implant extra eyes on our body (even if that would do any good), with enough resources, we can potentially network a group of people or mechanical sensors (ex. cameras) in such a way to effectively broaden our perspective. This is no new phenomenon. Conglomerations of individuals have been sharing communal perspective since the advent of community and it has perhaps been perfected in the stereotypical “small town” atmosphere where information travels faster than the wind and community membership is often equated with accuracy. The internet itself provides a similar form of communal information-sharing on an exponentially broader level, making our sensory possibilities inexhaustible. Our ability to process such information however, is not.
The more pieces of information we receive at a time, the less we are able to actually process each individual item. The frames blur together and we lose our ability to see the distinctive aspects of each individual picture when the movie is playing. There is no way around the fact that the dissemination of information takes time, and there is more to see in every moment than we have time to see. So we filter our present perceptions by necessity through aim, looking in the direction we expect to see what we expect. We are surprised by new information coming at us from the place we were not looking – like a surprise birthday party thrown four months early, rather than on the proper day. It’s a simple fact of life that we cannot watch everything, all the time, and thus are destined to miss out on some of the opportunities that come our way – especially those which run counter to our experience and expectations.