The term we used to describe the study of alternative futures is important. Disciplines and discourses do not emerge from a vacuum but have a history and a cultural context; and their names can hide as much as they reveal. This paper examines such terms as 'futurology' and 'foresight', and argues that to emphasise plurality and diversity the study of the future is best served by the moniker 'futures studies'. It suggests that remembering the history of futures discourse is necessary to resolve the crisis of identity and meaning, and frequent fruitless reinvention, of the field. Finally, it presents Sardar's four laws of futures studies: futures studies are wicked (they deal largely with complex, interconnected problems), MAD (emphasise Mutually Assured Diversity), sceptical (question dominant axioms and assumptions) and futureless (bear fruit largely in the present). © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
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