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Our say: As 2016 starts, here are a few safe bets

"Never make predictions, especially about the future," is variously attributed to Danish physicist Niels Bohr, American League manager Casey Stengel and the immortal Yogi Berra. It's wonderful advice, and it is always thrown down and danced on at this time of year, particularly in the pages of newspapers and magazines.

It's not just because we're trying to fill space when news is slow. Most of us have to deal with more uncertainty than we like in our lives and are suckers for someone who sounds authoritative — or at least sure of himself — telling us what's coming. It's a human weakness, and journalists share it.

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As Dan Gardner wrote in his 2011 book "Future Babble: Why Pundits are Hedgehogs and Foxes Know Best," "We try to eliminate uncertainty however we can. We see patterns where there are none. We treat random results as if they are meaningful. And we treasure stories that replace the complexity and uncertainty of reality with simple narratives about what's happening and what will happen."

When we can't generate our own narratives, we turn to experts who are often flogging a theory or a cause that's their life's work. We pay respectful attention when they're right — which is bound to happen occasionally, just by chance — and tacitly conspire with them to forget about it when they've made miserably bad calls and are trying to distract attention by talking loudly about something else.

With this in mind, we are going to stick to some ultra-safe predictions for 2016:

First, this is a presidential election year, so the amount of bosh, drivel, silliness and media obsession with trivia about tactics, gaffes and tweets will reach astronomical levels. And once again, residents distracted by this national demolition derby will be paying less attention than they should to the officials at the state, county, city and school board levels who are actually doing far more to affect their communities and shape their day-to-day lives.

Taxes, development and crime will continue to be huge concerns. Politicians will continue to give us things to write about by saying amazingly obtuse and destructive things. And there will be the usual flock of black swans — the totally unexpected things that reshape the news.

Oh, and as this is a Summer Olympics year, we will have a couple of weeks of respite in early August, as the world's attention turns to Rio de Janeiro, and the prospect of viewing a sort of excellence that transcends hype.

No doubt you can find more dramatic forecasts. Our suggestion: Collect them in a folder (either physical or online). They could provide some edification — and perhaps amusement — when the next New Year's Eve rolls around.

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