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Monday, May 20, 2019

No one knows anything

Especially the so-called experts:
The idea for the most important study ever conducted of expert predictions was sparked in 1984, at a meeting of a National Research Council committee on American-Soviet relations. The psychologist and political scientist Philip E. Tetlock was 30 years old, by far the most junior committee member. He listened intently as other members discussed Soviet intentions and American policies. Renowned experts delivered authoritative predictions, and Tetlock was struck by how many perfectly contradicted one another and were impervious to counterarguments.

Tetlock decided to put expert political and economic predictions to the test. With the Cold War in full swing, he collected forecasts from 284 highly educated experts who averaged more than 12 years of experience in their specialties. To ensure that the predictions were concrete, experts had to give specific probabilities of future events. Tetlock had to collect enough predictions that he could separate lucky and unlucky streaks from true skill. The project lasted 20 years, and comprised 82,361 probability estimates about the future.

The result: The experts were, by and large, horrific forecasters. Their areas of specialty, years of experience, and (for some) access to classified information made no difference. They were bad at short-term forecasting and bad at long-term forecasting. They were bad at forecasting in every domain. When experts declared that future events were impossible or nearly impossible, 15 percent of them occurred nonetheless. When they declared events to be a sure thing, more than one-quarter of them failed to transpire. As the Danish proverb warns, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”
As it happens, I've occasionally taken part in the project as one of the forecasters, although I haven't even logged in to the system for years. The one time I was moderately active, my team was in second place, although that was largely thanks to one guy who was easily the best in our group. If I recall correctly, I was better than the average forecaster, but not in the top ten percent. I still get emails from time to time asking me about the prospects for a Russian attack on Estonia before September and so forth, but I lost interest in it pretty quickly.

Anyhow, the article is right. Everyone is wrong about the future and most people are actually much more reliable as negative predictors, which I interpret as meaning that events proceed in a non-linear manner that is contrary to normal human expectations. That's my best guess as to why the future is so hard for everyone to predict, or even anticipate.

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67 Comments:

Blogger Gregory the Great May 20, 2019 5:31 AM  

Can we agree on "God only knows"?

Blogger JC Skinner May 20, 2019 5:32 AM  

That's a very good point, that events are non-linear, and not narratives. We superimpose narrative later upon events, either as experts, journalists, historians or whomever. But narrative isn't inherent, and patterns, where they exist, are no more predictable than the actors in events are, and their motivations are opaque often even to themselves.
Futurologists who aren't actually leveraging inside knowledge of future developments are about as reliable as casting runes or inspecting chicken innards.

Blogger God Emperor Memes May 20, 2019 5:39 AM  

I have found my ability to predict the future has become uncannily accurate since I started applying your Laws of SJW's, Vox.

Blogger ZhukovG May 20, 2019 5:52 AM  

Could it be that forecasters are looking for rational outcomes?

People being rationalizing rather than rational and by nature self centered, could make for a lot of unpredictability.



Blogger Solon May 20, 2019 6:01 AM  

Meta question: how many experts predicted the results of this prediction study?

Curious minds wish to know.

Blogger Dark glasses Woody May 20, 2019 6:02 AM  

Fashion is a good example of the ability of people to respond to enduring needs with dynamic solutions, and though it is cyclical in some respects it defys prediction. How would you quantify the impact Justin Beiber on the future of lesbian style a month before he became famous?

Blogger Frank Ness May 20, 2019 6:18 AM  

Once you understand that MPAI forms the basis for the Book of Revelation it all starts to make sense.

Blogger Lazarus May 20, 2019 6:18 AM  

I liked the last part of the article about foxes and hedgehogs.

Al Gore predicted the Arctic would be ice-free in the summer by 2013. It actually grew larger that year, and the next. Must be a hedgehog.

Blogger Toris May 20, 2019 6:20 AM  

With all the Iran talk, and Big Bear's questioning of Freemasonry, I predict Big Bear will stumble across the completely fabricated and logos-lacking Bahai faith and question the sincerity of old family Establishment Anglos (Brits and Americans - along with some of the other usual suspects -> e.g. Court Jewry and Russia) interested in some slim dusty claiming to be the latest manifestation of God (and his John the Baptist rip off). Big Bear, you can get a decent glimpse of our enlightened "World Order/World Peace" builders agenda from the writings of their very own creation, the Bahai Faith.

Blogger Northwest Watching Thing May 20, 2019 6:31 AM  

In The Dilbert Future, Adams points out that when we see a potentially cataclysmic event, we tend to change our behavior to avoid it. Politics seems especially susceptible to this effect.

Blogger Doktor Jeep May 20, 2019 7:13 AM  

They base their forecasts on their bias.
Accuracy comes when equalism is set aside. In the case of the Russians, they have been around a very long time, and it's not in their nature to just start wars. A similar measure for China, who will do everything to get what they want without violence first.
It's the west that just starts wars. Like when Israel gets nervous, for example.

Blogger Dr Caveman May 20, 2019 7:23 AM  

I took part in the same team-based forecasting experiment. It was fun for a while, but incredibly hard to be consistently accurate.

Blogger Johnny May 20, 2019 7:42 AM  

My way of saying it is that it is multivariate. Too many things all going on at the same time for an accurate prediction.

We hate not knowing and that creates a market for knowledge that somebody will fill. Thus, always, there is an expert in every area. Always, and regardless of the actual state of knowledge.

Blogger God Emperor Memes May 20, 2019 7:45 AM  

Since when have the Chinese hesitated to use violence?

Blogger wreckage May 20, 2019 7:58 AM  

A failure rate of only 25% would still make you a killing in gambling or the stockmarket. Those guys were substantially better than a lot of people.

I just thought I'd note that: from my limited experience, those guys were hitting home-runs at a very respectable rate on average. Most pundits, most politicians, and almost all journalists, would be considered god-like with hit rates like that.

A lot of people with a lot of influence are worse than random for yes/no predictions.

Blogger Avalanche May 20, 2019 8:17 AM  

Wow! What a fantastic article, and I've ordered the book. Thanks.

Blogger Ford Prefect May 20, 2019 8:24 AM  

One of the problems with predicting the future is that we are not dealing with a closed system. You can sit down and enumerate all the variables you know and try to create a prediction based on those variables, but there may be variables that will appear part way through the time span of your prediction that throw things sideways.

As an example, consider the internet. From an economic perspective, it's had significant effects. Few, if any, pundits predicted it let alone the effects of it. If you made a predication for which the economy was a significant factor prior to the start of the internet but ending after the rise of the internet, you have a major factor unaccounted for.

If you don't know what all the variables are, your equation is likely to be incorrect.

Blogger peacefulposter May 20, 2019 8:28 AM  

Investment advisors are a particularly egregious example. If they really knew anything, they would be counting their $billions on the beach somewhere, not talking with you.

Blogger Daniel May 20, 2019 8:40 AM  

How could they have possibly forseen that a sigma would drop out of their study without warning?

Blogger JG May 20, 2019 8:48 AM  

Does this mean AOC is wrong about the world ending in 12 years?

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 20, 2019 8:51 AM  

Ecclesiastes 8:7
Young's Literal Translation
For he knoweth not that which shall be, for when it shall be who declareth to him?


It's not a new problem. King Solomon saw it, too. There is no new thing under the sun.

Blogger Seeingsights May 20, 2019 8:56 AM  

Karl Popper argued that forecasting the future course of history accurately cannot be done, as Hegel, Marx and others thought. Popper's argument goes something like this: The growth of knowledge is unpredictable; knowledge influences history; therefore, the future course of history is unpredictable.
I think that's a valid argument.
I'll just add that predictions have a better chance of success when they are within two years. For example, the odds favor Trump's reelection.
I think Popper wouldn't deny that we can have correct predictions of historical events in the very short term either.
A game I play is to compare the state of the world at one point of time to ten years later. There can be drastic change in ten years. For example compare 1981 to 1991. Or 1907 to 1917.

Blogger Ransom Smith May 20, 2019 8:59 AM  

Since when have the Chinese hesitated to use violence?
They usually just kill each other, before ever engaging another power in conflict.

Blogger wreckage May 20, 2019 9:08 AM  

@18 NN Taleb: "Never take investment advice from anyone who has to work for a living."

Blogger peacefulposter May 20, 2019 9:47 AM  

Hey, forecasting is easy.

Trumpslide 2020.

Blogger James Dixon May 20, 2019 10:10 AM  

> No one knows anything

I wish more people would simply accept this.

> If they really knew anything, they would be counting their $billions on the beach somewhere, not talking with you.

This has been pointed out multiple times by multiple people. If they can really consistently double your money in the markets every year, why aren't they doing so. 2^8=1024. $1K starting gives you $1M in 8 years, $1B in 16, and $1T in 24. Jeff Bezos is currently considered the richest person in the world with a net worth of $130B or so.

Blogger One Deplorable DT May 20, 2019 10:11 AM  

As long as we can all agree on predictions about global warming and about immigrants becoming true Americans. Surely those are sound predictions, right?

Blogger David Ray Milton May 20, 2019 10:16 AM  

@JG

One of my favorite hobbies to do with dooms day environmentalists is to tell them to look up the predictions from the original Earth Day in 1971.

Blogger xevious2030 May 20, 2019 10:16 AM  

As usual, you provided the key elements. Hence the appeal of your blog. Everyone is wrong. Contrary to the expectations of those who participated. More reliable negative predictors (degree of reliability being whatever it was). Contrary to the expectations of those involved. Experts in their field. Nonlinear in relation to their reasoning. As you were included, would seem high IQ, not simply content experts.

The more reliable inverse relationship between the methods of thought of prediction and outcomes hints there is a pattern for the misinterpretation. With events that seem to be decision based, not simple random occurrences devoid of intelligence. That the predictors of the outcome decisions more consistently weight improbably decisions and less consistently weight probable decisions. I would guess they would take into account history and cultural norms, experiences of the actual decision makers. Coupled with the difficulty that a number of decisions involved are probably not even known to the decision makers until the moment of action, based in part on last minute inputs and their interpretation by the decision maker. Plus any of the inputs entirely masked from the predictor and masked from the decision maker, for the final results of the decisions, and their impact on other decisions.

Prospects for Russia attacking Estonia by a certain date. Seems that the incorrect attributes are being utilized as predictive. 40% of human behavior is genetic. The prediction seems to be aimed at choice rather than behavior. It is possible to get every single choice wrong, while at the same time being 100% correct about the underlying behavior and direction. Rather than predicting the outcome of a choice along a linear path, predictability might be better utilized to identify the points where choices are going to be made, and the spectrum of choices likely to be considered available. Mapping sets of nodes, and weighting paths likely to be followed once a choice is made. This also allows, by the identification of likely choice nodes, to provide influence, based on the weights of previously selected paths, to influence the choices and thusly create 100% known outcomes. In other words, removing chance from the equation, or at least weighting against it, to a number of probable outcomes. And knowing which nodes (and probable weights occurring along to those variable choice nodes) are important for future decisions of interest, and which ones are not. Which is increased in value once intentions of the primary players are known. Such as to predict whether the ECU will be useful as a vehicle to bring about a European Union, and what tactics are likely to be employed at decision points to bring it about.

That is how the deadline for hard Brexit was known to have a certain outcome, that Brexit was not going to occur at that point, on the 29th of March, 2019. The weighting of the paths simply did not provide for that outcome, and there was influence and intent from relevant parties of influence to not allow it, regardless of parliamentary procedure and precedent. Not everything behaviorally predictable is that easy, nor with that degree of weight.

Blogger Pope Cleophus I May 20, 2019 10:27 AM  

Half right. Politicians of all stripes see a potential cataclysm as a revenue generating event. Also as an enhancement of State Power.

Blogger xevious2030 May 20, 2019 10:39 AM  

It’s a process I found with life and death consequences. On deployment, I had a particular area of concern, a specific local, which I stayed focused on. Because it was a likely choice node (time/location). Got so close, we were on the ground, ammunition, supplies, ready to roll. Prepared. A few months into the deployment. A last minute call recalled us, and an alternative method was utilized, for the same ends through different means. But the choice node occurred in proximity, and a decision to an end was made toward a desired outcome. After having carried out two other operations of high probability for a choice node, prepared with materials, while having received useless (but very pretty and quite professional) materials for an unlikely choice node by an easy to guess alphabet group of predictors and subject matter experts with years of experience and inside knowledge.

Blogger Didas Kalos May 20, 2019 10:46 AM  

Agreed

Blogger Damelon Brinn May 20, 2019 10:59 AM  

Interesting stuff. I liked this part that could describe the Ilk: "Among those, they identified a small group of the foxiest forecasters—bright people with extremely wide-ranging interests and unusually expansive reading habits, but no particular relevant background—and weighted team forecasts toward their predictions. They destroyed the competition."

I wonder how much predictions are thrown off by media disinformation, intentional or otherwise. There was certainly a lot of that in the Cold War, with the dominant media telling everyone the USSR was an economic powerhouse. The fact that classified info didn't help seems to argue against that, although I suspect even classified info was biased in that case by commie sympathizers.

You can try to ignore or correct for media bias, but that adds an extra subjective variable. I find that assuming they're always lying gets me much closer to the truth than if I trusted them, but it can lead to overcorrection now and then.

Blogger Jeroth May 20, 2019 11:01 AM  

Too many variables is the issue. Just consider how much easier the two body problem is compared to the three body problem in physics. And that's excluding any randomness.

Blogger pyrrhus May 20, 2019 11:24 AM  

There is an entire book on expertise out there, and it concludes that in most areas amateurs are as good as experts, if not better...exceptions are highly technical areas like chess...

Blogger kurt9 May 20, 2019 11:26 AM  

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Blogger Zander Stander May 20, 2019 11:37 AM  

This is why I have my doubts on the seven countries war plan and the master plan of the deep state or the cabal to rule the universe.

Blogger dienw May 20, 2019 11:44 AM  

Ah, but our masters do know the future: just dumb humanity down enough in order to determine it.
Part One: The Rise of the Round Table Movement
Part II: Milner’s Perversion Takes over Canada
The Origins Of The Deep State In North America, Part 3

From part 3:
Polarization is the name of empire. If a society can be kept under the control of their belief in what their senses tell them, then the invisible structures governing their behaviour will remain mystical and unknowable. More importantly than that, those intentions shaping such structures towards a pre-determined goal will also remain unknowable. If unknowable, then beyond the reach of judgement, and if beyond the reach of judgement, then unchangeable. This has been the great secret of empire since the days of the Babylonian priesthood and Babylon`s whore Rome, since whose collapse, three more incarnations have manifested themselves in the forms of the Byzantine, Venice and Anglo-Dutch empires. This is the dynamic at the heart of what has today come to be known as “the Deep State”.

Blogger Akuma May 20, 2019 11:47 AM  

How many of them are multidisciplinary? Experts tend to get good at predicting things in one or two areas and ignore an underlying objective process when it comes to other disciplines. This is despite the fact that its been shown the lemmings experts are supposed to lead take an experts advice across domains. This leads to them being agreeable with everything and entrenching when someone disagrees with them.

It also means they are terrible at detecting anomalies and actively view the anamoly as negative or negligable. Instead of slotting it into the box with the other anamolies and detecting the pattern between them.

Blogger Nathan May 20, 2019 11:48 AM  

I recently had the opportunity to study the political career ot Churchill, which provided insight into the nature of successful forecasting. Churchill had very keen geopolitical foresight, and it was founded on his insight into the different natures of the different European countries. Germany behaved a certain way, France acted a different way, and Russia a third. As Churchill understood each countries history, character and current political climate he was uncanny at foreseeing the shape of events before they came to be.

However, Churchill rarely attempted predictions about specific timing, as he believed that the free human will had a large effect on the course of history. For example, at the end of WWI, as the Bolsheviks are solidfying control in Russia, Churchill warns his colleagues that a Bolshevik Russia will lead eventually to the rise of a Russia-Germany-Japan alliance that will reignite German militarism. Churchill didnt believe that this alliance was foredoomed, but saw it as the most likely course if the other European countries did not act because of the natures of Russia, Germany and Japan at that time.

Blogger Phelps May 20, 2019 11:48 AM  

The important part is the absolute certainty that the "experts" had in their predictions. They were bad at the predictions that they self-rated as "certain".

Blogger dienw May 20, 2019 11:48 AM  

To continue; part 3 is most interesting as it lines up, if I am correct with Vox's analysis of Free Trade:
This American System was the effect of rigorous studies of Platonic texts such as the Republic, and the French Cameralist (aka: Dirigist) economic school as applied by such leading organizers of the Westphalian Treaty as Cardinal Mazarin, and France’s Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, not to mention their spiritual heir, the great scientist and statesmanGottfried Leibniz. Nearly written out of today’s history books, these men played a direct role in the formation of the early colonies of the Americas and New France. In his 1984 So You Wish to Learn All About Economics?, a modern representative of this tradition, Lyndon H. LaRouche (1923-2019), credits Leibniz as also having been the founder of the science of Physical Economy and intellectual inspiration for the American System (2). Virtually every nationalist American president who attempted to revive this system throughout the coming two centuries, including President Trump today had to contend with Britain’s deep state structures within America itself.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 20, 2019 12:09 PM  

Were the experimenters advertising a decade or so back for predictions, with rewards for correct predictions? I remember seeing something like that, and avoiding it because it looked like a scam.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 20, 2019 12:17 PM  

Damelon Brinn wrote:I find that assuming they're always lying gets me much closer to the truth than if I trusted them, but it can lead to overcorrection now and then.

The best, most plausible lies start with a kernel of truth, and pervert your understanding of it.

Blogger xevious2030 May 20, 2019 12:21 PM  

@33 (DB) Access provides only limited benefit. This is very dated, and conditions today may vary, but it is presented as a last observation. Quite a few of the analysts are, higher IQ (from lower high to higher high, expected spread), and better suited than the general population for processing information in certain respects, but quite a number are not genuinely talented or even skilled in predictability. A number of those are processing the information into intelligence. Content wise, they tend to be pretty good, but it interferes with source reliance selection. Meaning, the reports you receive may contain factual information, but less favored sources with more key information may be left out. Unreliable sources may also make up the bulk of the information, given a higher rating than warranted due to bias of the analyst or pressure exerted on them. Can be from inexperience. This can be fueled by the decision makers, who promote those that present the information they want to support their decision, while downplaying information that does not support work not dedicated to that outcome. Sometimes, to the extent the analysts are just unknowingly given BS presented as fact. In other words, aside from the latter case, seeing information that policymakers get, and seeing those policy makers get on TV and lie outright. With the people at the localities knowing the actual information. Other places knowing the actual information. With the only people worldwide that do not know being the American public, and sometimes the analysts. Often times with the American media having known the truth and presenting BS. It’s disgusting. But mapping all of that is helpful for discerning truth. When you know the consistent liar, and you have the basis for comparison, sometimes it is possible to strip away the lie to reveal without a basis present for that instance, repeatedly, and reliably.

Blogger KPKinSunnyPhiladelphia May 20, 2019 12:25 PM  

peacefulposter wrote:Investment advisors are a particularly egregious example. If they really knew anything, they would be counting their $billions on the beach somewhere, not talking with you.

Well, you're right about one class of investment advisors -- those who run pooled funds who think they can outperform the market. For a while, maybe, but not consistently over time. It's why ETFs have dominated the market, thought they themselves have some interesting unintended consequences, as articulated by the founder of Vanguard, John Bogle, before he passed away.

And then you have Taleb's "Black Swan" effect, when all bets are off.

I was in the investments business for close to two decades, and in my view the role of another class of investment advisor -- those who deal with individual clients -- is to get individual clients from doing stupid things. Not saving. Buying a house you THINK you can afford, but will hamstring you financially. Not diversifying. Not hedging. Not understanding life cycle timelines.

When Eisenhower was planning for D-Day, he asked his chief meterologist Group Capt. James Martin Stagg for weather predictions months in advance (recall that Stagg helped Eisenhower to make the call to invade on 6/6 between two big storms).

Stagg protested that there was no way he can make forecasts months in advance.

Eisenhower, not being stupid, understood, but he told Stagg he needed forecasts for "planning purposes."

That's why we make forecasts. We need to plan. But don't believe for a second they will be correct.

Blogger Balam May 20, 2019 1:07 PM  

Northwest Watching Thing wrote:In The Dilbert Future, Adams points out that when we see a potentially cataclysmic event, we tend to change our behavior to avoid it. Politics seems especially susceptible to this effect.

Having not read the book the statement from Adams you're giving is either dumb, wrong, or relies on a cleverly worded tautology. The statement can be boiled down to, "people change their behavior when they think something's going to happen" doesn't need a high IQ to explain. Worse than that politics shows itself to be particularly immune to his assertion. My argument for that bit is that political candidates flip flop to whatever is convenient to get votes and personal power, crying about global warming one day then global cooling the next, clamoring to build more nukes and nuclear power plants one day and wanting to get rid of all of them the next, saving babies and killing babies, having no care for 'potential cataclysmic events'.

Ford Prefect wrote:One of the problems with predicting the future is that we are not dealing with a closed system. You can sit down and enumerate all the variables you know and try to create a prediction based on those variables, but there may be variables that will appear part way through the time span of your prediction that throw things sideways.

You are correct, a random plague or sudden invention can change everything. There's a second thing that can lead to poor predictions however, even with sufficient knowledge, and it's not understanding the nature of things. Ideologues aside (they can be outright delusional) a lot of academics have the tendency to say trends will go on forever. Beanie Babies will be collected forever!...until they're not. Housing prices will go up forever, until they don't. Nazis/Soviet Union will take over the world, until they don't. Global temperatures will go in X direction forever! You give them two data points and there'll be an expert somewhere who will project the direction of the line formed with them 1000 years into the future. I'm personally hoping we get to the 'Western nations let in unlimited immigrants...until they don't' phase.

xevious2030 wrote:As usual, you provided the key elements. Hence the appeal of your blog. Everyone is wrong.

You'd reminded me that Francis Galton
(https://infogalactic.com/info/Francis_Galton see section 'Variance and Standard Deviaion') had an incident where he collected about 800 guesses at the weight of an ox at a country fair. The mean of all the guesses came out to 1197 lbs. which was, remarkably, the exact weight of the ox. "Vox Populi is right" while individual guesses were wrong (couldn't resist). The idea of the 'Wisdom of the Crowds' came through while, in the Tetlock article, reducing the size of the fox groups raised accuracy instead of lowering it. I wonder why the difference.

Blogger mike May 20, 2019 1:22 PM  

There goes government by technocrats

Blogger The Pitchfork Rebel May 20, 2019 1:24 PM  

I am by trade, a financial forecast analyst for an enterprise with a very well defined and established market. Anything beyond three months is iffy for me, and I am confined to a very limited scope of outcomes.

Taleb's contempt for forecasting is, if anything understated. We really are afflicted with the "pretense of knowledge" to borrow Hayek's phrase.

Blogger Tars Tarkas May 20, 2019 1:36 PM  

What I have always noticed about "experts" is that this label is used when some other label is not available to lend credibility.
Actual subject matter experts do not call themselves experts. A chemist is going to call themselves a chemist and a metallurgist will call themselves a metallurgist.
People claim to be experts in fields that they could not possibly be experts because the field is far too large or broad. Like people who say they are "experts" in some foreign country. Imagine what audacity it takes to label yourself an "expert" about China. Since there is no "Chinesology," they are trying to steal the valor of people with actual expertise in an actual subject like chemistry.
It's telling that the subjects were environment, economics and foreign governments. All of which are very complex systems where the results of trying to systematize these fields have been abysmal. It is not uncommon for economists to miss recessions that are currently occurring!
There are "experts" in "Iran," predicting how Iran is about to attack the US. As if the Iranian government is just itching to pick a fight with Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. These people should be run out of every institution in America and be banned from even visiting Washington, DC.

Blogger Tars Tarkas May 20, 2019 1:48 PM  

Some years ago, probably around 2008, there was a story going around that an algorithm which predicted 9/11 and the stock market crash based on what was being posted to the Internet.
Does anyone remember that or what it was called. I would love to know what such a prediction scheme would make of today's Internet.

Blogger Bernard Brandt May 20, 2019 1:57 PM  

Several thoughts:

1. Specialists suck; generalists succeed. That's one takeaway I get from both the Atlantic article, and the book to which it refers. 2-sigma midwits who specialize early to become "experts" do a much poorer job at surviving the future, let alone predicting it, than 4-sigma autodidacts and generalists.

2. In its way, the article is a confirmation of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's thesis, that rather than attempting to predict risks, it is more profitable to anticipate them, by arranging one's affairs to be as antifragile as possible.

3. I believe it was the Greek poet, C.P. Cavafy, who said: "The gods see things as they are.
The mass of men see only what is in front of them.
The wise see approaching things."

Be wise, kiddies.

Blogger Doktor Jeep May 20, 2019 2:26 PM  

@29
Yeah when I figure genetics and predispositions based on genetics into my calculations my accuracy shoots up. I can predict when certain people are going to screw up and how. I recently called a situation with 100 percent accuracy because the people involved come from places whose main export is more people for a good reason.
Yes that car with the shit-hole country flag sticker on it and the boots-in-a-dryer music WILL cut you off then drive slow on purpose.

The same can be said for dealing with women. That's why I joke about sellout GenXers who will fire you based on some SJW rage mob complaint because he fears getting fired by his boomer boss who is clueless otherwise. He fears being fired because "I have to pay for muh three child support payments from muh three failed marriages. All muh exes were unique and not like the rest". Once you can expect what the true cause of the term "hysteria" was really all about it becomes easy.

Repetition of failure, despair from the damage caused by expectation of equal outcomes, all goes away when you take a good look at someone and adjust accordingly. It does not mean you never get surprised by outliers. When I meet an outlier, they have all of my respect regardless of who they are.
The rest have to go back, or be told to sit down and shut up.

Blogger xevious2030 May 20, 2019 2:38 PM  

@47 (B) Good question, and I don’t know. As a guess, the two seem to be two different thought processes, one a variety of steps across a stepping stone, the other like taking a spectrum of domesticated turkeys and wild turkeys, throwing them off a cliff.

Blogger God Emperor Memes May 20, 2019 3:24 PM  

Bernie Madoff did pretty well for a while.

Blogger Don't Call Me Len May 20, 2019 5:04 PM  

a lot of academics have the tendency to say trends will go on forever


The Extend the Trend fallacy is hardly limited to academics alone. People from all walks of life buy and sell chart porn based on this absurd notion all the time. Many a hysterical and wrongheaded political decision has been made because of it.

Blogger richards May 20, 2019 6:19 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger MichaelJMaier May 20, 2019 7:06 PM  

A rational human with all the info SHOULD have predicted the end of the US financial sector in 2008. Total collapse.

Illegal bailouts... how do you predict breaking the rules?

Blogger Bird on a Wing May 20, 2019 8:06 PM  

Nathan wrote:I recently had the opportunity to study the political career ot Churchill, which provided insight into the nature of successful forecasting. Churchill had very keen geopolitical foresight, and it was founded on his insight into the different natures of the different European countries. Germany behaved a certain way, France acted a different way, and Russia a third. As Churchill understood each countries history, character and current political climate he was uncanny at foreseeing the shape of events before they came to be.

However, Churchill rarely attempted predictions about specific timing, as he believed that the free human will had a large effect on the course of history...


Churchill’s observation that free human will has quite a bit to do with the timing of all kinds of circumstances, large and small, well, that’s just a good bit of wisdom, right there. Anyone who lives in reality knows that whatever the circumstance, adaptations might have to be made, and with good operational planning, it will probably turn out just fine.

Blogger Edgar Abbey May 20, 2019 8:10 PM  

I usually follow the betting markets, where people have real cash on the line, to help cut through the spin. Intrade was by far the best, because people could bet enormous sums, and therefore, anyone who tried to sway public opinion by bumping the market in one direction saw their money quickly swallowed up in the feeding frenzy, bringing the market back to its equilibrium state. PredictIt is the next best thing, but betting is limited, which introduces some potential for bumping the market in one's favored direction. It's still an interesting way to look at the future with less spin than you'd get from pundits.

Blogger Forbes May 20, 2019 8:13 PM  

When experts declared that future events were impossible or nearly impossible, 15 percent of them occurred nonetheless. When they declared events to be a sure thing, more than one-quarter of them failed to transpire.

Given what is known, i.e. random probabilistic events and outcomes, I'd say the collective of 15% of the "impossible" happened, while 25% of the sure-thing didn't, is pretty good reflection of true uncertainty. My point being that there is wisdom in crowds that individual point estimates (predictions) will fail.

Blogger James Dixon May 20, 2019 9:02 PM  

> ...how do you predict breaking the rules?

By understand who and what they are.

Blogger xevious2030 May 20, 2019 10:44 PM  

@58 (MJ) Who said it wasn't? There were a number of characteristics not to dissimilar to the housing crash that started the US Great Depression of the 1930s. The Fed raised rates to an insane degree in 2007 (or thereabouts, forget), even after the results were recognizable to even the dunce.

Blogger Rex Little May 20, 2019 10:45 PM  

As the Danish proverb warns, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Danish proverb? I always thought that was a Yogi Berra quote.

Blogger xevious2030 May 21, 2019 11:47 AM  

I’m glad Owen, for starters, someone with an audience, picked up on northern European origin peoples need to get over the fear of freezing to death. That is a huge part of the underlying human behavior that has been used against them. Being a basic nature behavior, it is unlikely they will, and it’s not the solution (can’t remove nature, only restore proper utilization). Its power is in the recognition that it is a driving force. And this opens the way to understanding there are other group driving forces. What has happened is that the group identification and group defense (to include offensive) has been bypassed. As, SirHamster (in another thread) recognized with Trump, the missing element is rage. Rage from the Alpha, which transcends to the followers, an emotion that prompts action and counteracts simple sympathy and empathy which is good toward friends but dangerous toward those seeking to replace you. There is an underlying behavior, and the desire is to shift to a different underlying behavior. By shifting the Overton Window from one behavior (genetically based sympathy/empathy) to another (rage), it allows the framing of the choices. Weighting the choice paths (selecting the behavior) presents certain choice nodes (while effectively removing others), and weighting the choice paths beyond the choice node, influences the decision at the same choice node.

Apathy is not the enemy, removing rage from the equation is, and that has been educated and entertained to Americans (the nature has been so suppressed artificially and chemically) quite successfully, to date. That sense of community, there is a tendency to go along, but there is also a tendency to destroy what is harmful within, to exclude, and a rage seeking to destroy that which endangers. To build up friends, and destroy enemies. To vomit out the lukewarm, and to meet with hot and cold. It’s there, it’s the natural behavior. Just have to weight the nature to surpass the nurture. Keeping in mind the nurture depends on constant input, that nature does so on its own, and nature does so all the more with the proper inputs.

Blogger xevious2030 May 21, 2019 1:05 PM  

Horribly OT, watched SQ day stream. “Uncle Chuck,” former Commandant? Charles Krulak? Holy cow, I served under that guy most of my four years. I mean, didn’t know him, had a very positive impression. I was on the little deck when the big deck got word they didn’t need to come, we were taking care of things just fine, very late fall 98. Fun times.

Blogger dc.sunsets May 22, 2019 9:28 AM  

This emphasizes what intelligent people already know: the world is infinitely complex, and complex systems cannot be (currently, and probably ever) predicted with enough confidence to render value.

Complex systems exhibit clear fractal relationships. Unfortunately, as Prechter has shown (via his own abysmal forecasting record) the fractal is of the indefinite kind, meaning that there's simply not enough self-similarity to provide utility. What emerges is the plain fact that only in hindsight can we see the pattern involved.

The world has been in the throes of a mania for about 40 years, and a mania-within-that-mania for ten years. What we know is this: all is trend and trend-change. Long trends are followed by commensurate changes in the opposite direction. Busts are created by the prior boom (and vice-versa.) And no one knows how high is up.

I still emphasize that the Path through Time is helical, and only appears to be sinusoidal when considered in two dimensions. This is why accurate prediction even of events once the "uptrend" is reversed remains impossible. Humans have difficulty thinking laterally, and the Path ahead is as much lateral as reversal. It means that as some things change, others continue. The sum of this is unknowable.

Plan A: The world continues, however improbably, as it is.
Plan B: Some things change trend.
Plan C: Massive things change trend.
Plan D: The zombie apocalypse.

Humans exhibit astonishing levels of inertia, so Plan D seems highly unlikely at all times. But the amplitude of today's mania^2 suggests that Plan C is possible in a time frame relevant to those in adulthood now. But the way to bet, always, is Plan A.

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