Those politicians are still obliged to promise a better future. We are often sceptical, and our scepticism takes several forms. One draws on studies of current trends that project a variety of disasters. Another looks back at past predictions of future wonders and recalls that, on the whole, things didn't turn out as the visionaries foresaw. The jetpacks, undersea cities and flying cars that excited people in the 1950s never materialised. And perhaps there is even a kind of dark enthusiasm for the end times, or at least for Hollywood-style apocalypse, a wishful thinking where the main wish is for the end of all things.