Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

The cone of plausibility

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The cone of plausibility is meant to graphically represent the relationship between the present moment in time and the certainty of our knowledge about future events. It provides a useful visual heuristic for planners looking into the future. But as the diagram depicts, the further into the future we seek to plan, the greater the number of possible events.

This first public mention of the “cone of plausibility” was by Charles Taylor in 1988 to illustrate the geopolitical scenarios he posed in Alternative World Scenarios for Strategic Planning (Carlisle Barracks: Strategic Studies Institute). Since Taylor’s initial development of a scenarios cone, or “cone of plausibility,” many simplified and modern alternatives have been developed by futurists including Trevor Hancock, Clement Bezold and Joseph Voros.

The cone of plausibility - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program
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Katherine Johnson
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