By Phillip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, 352p


Archie Cochrane was a Scottish doctor born in 1909 who pioneered medicine’s emergence as a fully-fledged science. “His insight—deeply controversial half a century ago—was that a doctor’s qualifications, eminence and confidence are irrelevant and that the only test of a treatment’s effectiveness was whether it could be shown, statistically and rigorously, to work.” “Superforecasting” advocates bringing the same rigor to forecasting. Lest you think forecasting accuracy irrelevant, remember it was a forecast of WMD that justified the Iraq war at the cost of thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

The average expert is “roughly as good at forecasting as a dart throwing chimpanzee.” More important than raw turbo power IQ to being a good forecaster is mental attitude:

– Tremendous appetite for information
– Skeptical
– Cautious
– Willing to revisit their predictions in light of new data
Ability to synthesize material from sources with very different outlooks on the world
– Growth mindset:
         – determination (always looking for ways to improve their performance)
         – self-reflection
         – willingness to learn from one’s mistakes (less interested if right or wrong than WHY) 

Unfortunately, most popular forecasting today consists of big, bold pronouncements by famous pundits whose confidence is rarely justified by their accuracy. Indeed, it is rare for anyone to go back and track outcomes against forecasting. 

Closing Quote:  

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.” – Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970

This blog draws liberally on and quotes extensively from The Economist article “Unclouded Vision” 9/26/15, link follows:

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier