Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Future is Unknown For Everyone

Whether it's the growing food crisis or the recent Japanese nuclear accident, the news is full of predictions. Few of them fare better than a random guess. Here's the research from a the new book Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, And You Can Do Better:
In Future Babble, Gardner acknowledges his debt to political scientist Phililp Tetlock, who set up a 20-year experiment in which he enrolled nearly 300 experts in politics. Tetlock then solicited thousands of predictions about the fates of scores of countries and later checked how well they did. Not so well. Tetlock concluded that most of his experts would have been beaten by “a dart-throwing chimpanzee.” Tetlock found that the experts wearing rose-tinted glasses “assigned probabilities of 65 percent to rosy scenarios that materialized only 15 percent of the time.” Doomsters did even worse: “They assigned probabilities of 70 percent to bleak scenarios that materialized only 12 percent of the time.”
Not to say predictions are bad, after all that's what makes economics so great. This is why people should be forced to back up their predictions financially, like they are at Intrade. I suggest finding a trusted observationalist and ignore most other people. I suggest reading the whole article quoted above to remember just how many times the experts have been wrong.


  1. Human being in general is always enticed to know about the future and hence interested about predictions

  2. Totally. But I think we shouldn't overemphasize how skilled experts are.


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