The Art and Science of Prediction

eBook - 2015
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From one of the world's most highly regarded social scientists, a transformative book on the habits of mind that lead to the best predictions Everyone would benefit from seeing further into the future, whether buying stocks, crafting policy, launching a new product, or simply planning the week's meals. Unfortunately, people tend to be terrible forecasters. As Wharton professor Philip Tetlock showed in a landmark 2005 study, even experts' predictions are only slightly better than chance. However, an important and underreported conclusion of that study was that some experts do have real foresight, and Tetlock has spent the past decade trying to figure out why. What makes some people so good? And can this talent be taught? In Superforecasting, Tetlock and coauthor Dan Gardner offer a masterwork on prediction, drawing on decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament. The Good Judgment Project involves tens of thousands of ordinary people--including a Brooklyn filmmaker, a retired pipe installer, and a former ballroom dancer--who set out to forecast global events. Some of the volunteers have turned out to be astonishingly good. They've beaten other benchmarks, competitors, and prediction markets. They've even beaten the collective judgment of intelligence analysts with access to classified information. They are "superforecasters." In this groundbreaking and accessible book, Tetlock and Gardner show us how we can learn from this elite group. Weaving together stories of forecasting successes (the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound) and failures (the Bay of Pigs) and interviews with a range of high-level decision makers, from David Petraeus to Robert Rubin, they show that good forecasting doesn't require powerful computers or arcane methods. It involves gathering evidence from a variety of sources, thinking probabilistically, working in teams, keeping score, and being willing to admit error and change course. Superforecasting offers the first demonstrably effective way to improve our ability to predict the future--whether in business, finance, politics, international affairs, or daily life--and is destined to become a modern classic.
Publisher: [New York] : Crown/Archetype, 2015
ISBN: 9780771070532
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Gardner, Dan 1968-


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Jul 22, 2016

Very badly written. I would have preferred a more academic book that described the forecasting experiment better.

Sep 29, 2015

Back in 2011, the research agency, IARPA, set up a series of forecasting tournaments in an effort to distill down best practices. This wasn’t a tournament to guess the weather or something seemingly trivial. This was a contest to predict events on a global scale, questions with geopolitical import, like what would happen in Syria or N. Korea. Teams in the tournament were given reams of questions by IARPA and over time the accuracy of their answers was recorded and assessed. Author Philip Tetlock led the winning team in that tournament. Called “Good Judgment Project,” Tetlock’s team outclassed the competition with consistently reliable estimates of events. How did they do it?

Superforecasting is a book that dismantles what forms an effective strategy for making predictions and offers a road map for better policymaking and geo-political wrangling.

Tetlock’s book is wonderfully readable and accessible, and I think that it will appeal to everyone from data nerds to the average reader looking for a ‘gee-whiz’ kind of read. I also think it’s a very important book. Forecasting isn’t some niche science. It’s an important part of formulating public policy responses, conducting foreign affairs and military action, and making financial and economic decisions. Getting it wrong is costly, and everyone is affected. Let’s start getting it right.

Math-y talk and quantitative discussions are simply presented. Tetlock recounts the evidence and offers a view that nicely reflects or fits that evidence. Tetlock also provides personal stories of the individual superforecasters, and so the writing has a strong story-centric rhythm. The “Ten Commandments for Aspiring Superforecasters” at the back of the book was a fun addition/primer.

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