Self-defeating prophecy

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A self-defeating prophecy (self-destroying or self-denying in some sources) is the complementary opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy; a prediction that prevents what it predicts from happening. This is also known as the prophet's dilemma.

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A self-defeating prophecy can be the result of rebellion to the prediction. If the audience of a prediction has an interest in seeing it falsified, and its fulfillment depends on their actions or inaction, their actions upon hearing it will make the prediction less plausible. If a prediction is made with this outcome specifically in mind, it is commonly referred to as reverse psychology or warning. Also, when working to make a premonition come true, one can inadvertently change the circumstances so much that the prophecy cannot come true.

It is important to distinguish a self-defeating prophecy from a self-fulfilling prophecy that predicts a negative outcome. If a prophecy of a negative outcome is made, and that negative outcome is achieved as a result of positive feedback, then it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if a group of people decide they will not be able to achieve a goal and stop working towards the goal as a result, their prophecy was self-fulfilling. Likewise, if a prediction of a negative outcome is made, but the outcome is positive because of negative feedback resulting from the rebellion, then that is a self-defeating prophecy.

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References

  1. Hemerijck, Anton; Ben Knapen; Ellen van Doorne (2009). Aftershocks: Economic Crisis and Institutional Choice. Amsterdam University Press. p. 259. ISBN   978-9089641922 . Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  2. Jonah 1:2-3 from Book of Jonah
  3. Jonah 3:4-10
  4. Boudry, Maarten. "A strange paradox: the better we manage to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the less we will learn from it". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-05-06.