Any good futurist knows that, while nobody can entirely predict the future, there are things we can tell about the future based on present conditions and on events in the past.

Actually "the future" is an imprecise phrase in the field of Futures Studies. There are an infinite number of possible futures. Futurists help people imagine the possible, plausible, probable and, most importantly, the preferable futures that might arise from the evidence we can see in the past and present.

Futurists work with scenarios that illustrate particular futures. They help people anticipate a range of possible futures to help them to make more robust plans and to exert whatever control they have on current conditions in order to create a favorable future for themselves.

We have much less control over what will happen in our lives next week than we do ten years from now. Also, the more likely a particular future is to occur, the less strategic benefit we can derive from anticipating it. Perhaps this is why University of Hawaii futurist Jim Dator says, "Any useful statement about the future must appear to be completely ridiculous."

Naturally, there is a tradeoff between the strategic value of a particular scenario and its probablity of occurring. Futurists are frequently wrong and that's by design. When you anticipate a range of possible futures, most will be wrong. Sometimes, a prediction is made in hopes that it will be made wrong, such as with predictions of overpopulation or global warming.

Visions of the future inspire hope, fear, panic, and cooperation. People often act based on some vision of the future. A futurist's job is to help people base their actions consciously on a range of possible scenarios so they can move toward their own preferable future.