“Every day, the media broadcast predictions without informing, or even asking, how good are the forecasters who made the forecasts. Every day, corporations and governments pay for forecasts that can be prophetic or unhelpful or something in between. And every day, all of us – leaders of nations, businessmen, executives, investors and voters – make critical decisions based on forecasts whose quality we do not know. ” This is stated by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner in their book Super forecasters: The art and science of prediction (Katz Editores, Buenos Aires 2017).
This is why it is so difficult to know for sure what will happen in 2022.
We have a general idea of what is coming, but very few of us are able to accurately forecast the future. What’s more, expert forecasters generally fail, as economic forecasters for a given period demonstrate time and again.
However, there are individuals who have a knack for forecasting the future.
On this book, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics 2002, Daniel Kahneman has said: “It is a manual for systematic thinking in the real world. This book shows that, under the right conditions, normal people are capable of improving their judgment enough to beat the professionals at their own game. “
Tetlock, who is Professor of Psychology and Management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, ran several prediction tournaments between 1984 and 2003 and found that the forecasters were often “just a little bit more accurate than chance, and therefore generally worse than basic extrapolation algorithms, especially when it comes to forecasts three and five years away. ” He also found that tipsters who appear or are quoted in the media are especially bad, and that there appears to be an inverse relationship between the tipster’s fame and the accuracy of their forecast.
From 2011 to 2015 Tetlock invited 20,000 volunteers to forecast the future and found that 2% of the participants were “super forecasters” capable of forecasting events with greater precision than chance and professional forecasters. These people “are not gurus or oracles with the power to look decades into the future, but they do. They have a real, measurable ability to judge how high-risk events are likely to unfold within three to six months, a year, or a year and a half. And they are very good because of what they do. Foresight is not a mysterious gift that is given at birth; it is the product of particular ways of thinking, gathering information and updating beliefs ”. Furthermore, “these habits of thought can be learned and cultivated by any intelligent, thoughtful and determined person.”
In conclusion, let us be suspicious of the most popular forecasters, the ones that appear frequently in the media. First of all, let’s take the time to investigate how accurate they have been in the past and trust only those who have predicted the future more accurately than others.
Facebook: Eduardo J Ruiz-Healy
Journalist and producer
Opinioner, columnist, lecturer, media trainer, 35 years of experience in the media, micro-entrepreneur.