Headline Nov 15, 2015/ "' THIS WORLD! ]....&...{ SUPERFORECASTERS ? "'


"SUPERFORECASTING" focuses on one issue : how we form theories of what will happen in the future.

But unlike  ''Mindware''  most of the material in  ''Superforecasting''  is new, and includes a compendium of best practices for prediction. The book describes the of the Good Judgement Project-

An effort started by Mr. Tetlock and his collaborator [and wife] Barbara Mellers, in 2011, which was financed by an arm of the American intelligence community.   

Superforecasting is a sequel of sorts to Mr. Tetlock's 2005 book "Expert Political Judgement," in which he analysed  82,361 predictions made by 284 experts in fields like political science, economics and journalism.

He found that about 15 percent of events they claimed had little or no chance of happening did in fact happen, while about  27 percent of those labelled sure things didn't. Mr. Tetlock concluded that the experts did little better than a  "*dart throwing chimp.*"

The primate metaphor resurfaces in this new book. The authors single out the columnist Thomas Friedman of The New York Times for being an  "exasperatingly evasive"  forecaster, and they-

Point to the inaccuracy of financial pundits at CNBC, whose performance prompted Jon Stewart to remark, "If I'd only followed CNBC's advice, I'd have a million dollars to day  provided I'd started with a hundred million dollars."     

And then, National Security Agencies have an obvious interest in Mr. Tetlock's project. By one estimate, the United States has  20,000  intelligence analysts working full time assess issues like the probability of an-

Israeli sneak attack Iran in the next month, or the departure of Greece from the Eurozone by the end of the year. That is nearly four times the number of physics faculty at American research universities. And so money spent on improving results must have seemed like a good investment.    

It was.  The Good Judgement Project used the Internet to recruit  2,800 volunteers, ordinary people with an interest in the current affairs   -a retired computer programmer, a social services worker, a homemaker.

Over four years, the researchers asked them to employ public news and information sources to estimate the probability that various events would occur, posing nearly 500 questions of the sort intelligence analysts must answer every day. 

The volunteers were also asked to reaffirm or adjust those probabilities daily, until a question  "expired"  at a pre-announced closing date.

Some of the volunteers performed strikingly better than the pack. Mr. Tetlock and Mr. Mellers studies their strategies, and what they learned about the thinking and methodology of these  "superforecasters"  is the heart of what is present in the book.

The central lessons of  "Superforecasting"  can be distilled into a handful of directives. Basic predictions on data and logic, and try to eliminate personal bias. Keep track of records so that you know how accurate you {and others} are.

Think in terms of probabilities and recognize that every everything is uncertain. Unpack a question into its component parts, distinguishing between what is known and unknown, and scrutinizing your assumptions.

Those lessons are hardly surprising, though the accuracy that ordinary people regularly attained through their meticulous application did amaze many. Unfortunately, few of us seem to follow these principles in our daily lives.

The prescriptions in both   "Superforecasting" and  "Mindware"  should offer us all an opportunity to understand and react more intelligently to the confusing world around us.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society:

''' !Wake Up Call! '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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