The Wizard and the Prophet

I just finished reading The Wizard and the Prophet, by Charles C. Mann. The book looks at the challenges of the future (Water, Food, Energy and Climate) through the lens of two philosophies he calls Wizards (embodied by Norman Borlaug) and Prophets (embodied by William Vogt).

The book is a fantastic overview of the challenges faced by humanity, and differing solutions to them. However, I found the Wizard/Prophet dichotomy hugely irritating and distracting, undercutting the book. Each time he described a solution as belonging to the Wizard camp or Prophet camp I found myself irritated by the arbitrariness of it. He wants to build this axis along which people can be placed... but my personal feeling is that the axis is far from straight, and is generally a poor fit with reality.

Good read, recommended, even if you, like me, find yourself mocking the word Wizard and Prophet by the end.