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Herman Kahn

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Herman Kahn (1922 - 1983) was founder of the Hudson Institute.

He began his career in the late 1940s as a physicist and mathematician at the RAND Corporation.

His co-directorship of the Strategic Air Force Project at Rand inspired him to write On Thermonuclear War, which advocated the view that such a war might be winnable. His influence helped to feed the then accelerating arms race. Kahn's extreme views made him the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's movie character, Doctor Strangelove.

In 1961 Kahn resigned the Rand Corporation and set up the Hudson Institute, in order to capitalise on his burgeoning reputation as a futurologist.

In general, Kahn believed that science is necessarily and inherently progressive, and that political interventions for the benefit of the environment are based on an irrational fear of science. He was strongly opposed to the precautionary principle and felt that global warming is a "normal oscillation", that deforestation was greatly exaggerated, and that acid rain is a minor problem [1]. His recommendations included the idea of excavating the Amazon using nuclear explosions.

Some of his predictions (such as mobile phones) were proved correct, but many were wrong. Kahn forecast that by 2000, Americans would work an average of 1,100 hours a year, roughly 20 hours a week. In reality, the actual work rate by 1993 rose to 1,905 hours for men and 1,526 hours for women -- up by 100 and 233 hours, respectively, from 1976.

More predictions for the year 2000 included underwater colonies, machines "slaved" to humans, human hibernation for months at a time and programmed dreams. For those who woke up, artificial moons would illumine the night. [2]

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