Before we get dull and serious, here’s a quiz to show how the selling power of sex can seduce even the best magazines.

Which award-winning American periodical is teasing readers at newsstands with the following cover headlines this month?

“Hey, That Stuffed Chipmunk Is Turning Me On!: Inside the Bizarre Sex-Fetish World of ‘Plushies’ and ‘Furries.'” And “Seven Playmates, One Bed + One Bowl of Viagra: 24 Hours in the Life of Hugh Hefner.”

Maxim, Esquire, Playboy, Gear and Stuff are nice tries, but wrong. And no, wise guy, it’s not Modern Maturity. Those sophisticated stories can be found flashing on the front of the March Vanity Fair.

But so what? Everyone uses sex to sell everything, mainly because it works. How else, for example, could you be lured into reading this column on “the key trends that will shape the world of the next two decades and beyond”?

That, sex fiends, is the titillation-free subject of the Futurist’s current cover story, “Trends Now Changing the World.” Written by a pair of veteran trend forecasters, it lays out what we earthlings can expect in the way of long-term economic and societal trends.

People everywhere in the world, say Marvin Cetron and Owen Davies, will live longer, healthier, smarter lives. They’ll work more with their brains than their backs. Most of them will speak English, the globe’s common language of business and technology.

Of course, there will be many more humans out there, because the world population will double by 2040. But women will have more power, politics will be more moderate, family structures will be more diverse. And — whether the French like it or not — more humans will look, act, think, shop and entertain themselves more and more like Americans.

The authors go on giddily for pages, predicting that the developed world’s economies will be healthy, except for poor Russia. Otherwise, affluence here and abroad will be widespread, with inflation and unemployment low and with oil and other energy sources plentiful and cheap.

The authors do see a few gloomy bumps down the road. Drinkable water will be so hard to come by it may set off water wars between countries, for instance. And landfills are running out of room (though there is plenty of land for new ones).

If everything you know about the present and the future state of humanity comes from the gloomsters in the news media, the Futurist’s relentless optimism may shock you.

But anyone familiar with the arguments of the late Julian Simon, who spent his life using facts to disprove the dire warnings of the doomsday industry, knows that predicting a rosy future is a no-brainer: It’s merely a continuation of the trends of the last 100 years.

For those who care, some of Simon’s arguments can be found in the February American Spectator in “Chicken Little Was Wrong.” Using bar charts, line graphs and other data, it punctures “seven myths of gloom and doom,” including that “pollution is getting worse,” “we’re running out of natural resources” and that “life is more dangerous than ever before.”

It’s graphic stuff, just not sexy.

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