Political science has given policy makers many useful methods and models for understanding continuities in the world. The utility of many models that were specified with statistical analysis is likely to be undermined as relations among variables change. Today, globalization, the rapid diffusion of technology, the internet, nongovernment organizations, environmental stresses, and population growth and migration present policy makers with unfamiliar challenges. To keep from being surprised, policy makers need methods that indicate possible outcomes but do not specify probabilities, which can be misleading. Instead, policy makers should have analytic methods that warn of discontinuities and illuminate the forces and processes shaping events. Methods based on or compatible with complexity theory seem promising. I describe two methods that can meet the needs of policy makers: Bueno de Mesquita’s political expected utility models and multiple scenario analysis. But methods or theories alone will not keep policy makers from being surprised by future developments. It will also be crucial to ask the right questions.
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