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Good stuff. Here are three relevant tidbits that serve to illustrate an expanded view of the point.

  1. In "The Logic of Failure", the point was made that humans are horrible at recognizing that an exponential process is in play.

  2. There is a saw to the effect (I'm paraphrasing) of "Human's grossly overestimate what will happen in 5 years but grossly underestimate what will happen in 10." This pretty much is a result of No. 1.

  3. I believe Thomas Jefferson (an outsider in the context of this post) was said to predict that it would take "1000 years to settle the West." He was off by roughly a factor of 20 ... but not in the direction predicted by this post. This pretty much is an actual instance of the effect posited by 2.

I can rationalize the completion of the Sydney Opera House being a manifestation of this phenomena. It's more of a reach, but I can probably rationalize that the prediction of the completion time of a paper is also explained.