In 1984, a political scientist named Tetlock decided to test expert theories on the Cold War:
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.David Epstein, “The Peculiar Blindness of Experts” at The Atlantic
Some people made great forecasts but they were volunteers and not who you would expect.
See also: 1973 computer program: The world will end in 2040. Jonathan Bartlett offers some thoughts on a frantic, bizarre – but instructive – computer-driven prediction. Viewers may find the attitudes to experts and to computers shown in the video both quaint and disturbing. For that reason, the video is a helpful reminder of the limits of both.
Hat tip: Pos-darwinista
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