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Future Hype by Bob Seidensticker

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3 The Unintended Wager

JOHNNY APPLESEED WAS A REAL PERSON. Born John Chapman, he lived on the American frontier in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois in the early 1800s. Unlike the legend, he didn’t cast his apple seeds randomly around the countryside but rather planted orchards with the goal of selling the seedlings. He did, however, widely spread the seeds of fennel, not native to America, as well as those of other plants considered medicinal at the time. He thought that fennel cured malaria. It doesn’t. In fact, it’s now seen as an invasive pest.

We often don’t get the results we expect. Sometimes the surprise is a good one and we get positive synergy. Sometimes copper plus tin gives bronze. Sometimes one plus one equals three. But too often, ...

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