Superforecasting

  • by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner
  • Narrated by Joel Richards
  • 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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. 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Research overview -- a general outcome

Imagine that you spend a dozen years working on putting together the best chorus group. It's labor intensive, you have auditions, experiment with music, and the exact mix of singers to make it great. You succeed, beating the standard chorus groups. Now that you have that trophy, you want to tell the world about it and so you do -- you write a book. Enter Superforecasting by Tetlock et. al.

Superforecasting is an account of a government funded research approach for forecasting short term world events. The author, and his colleges, successfully created a process that aggregates amateurs individuals into teams that have an exceptional accuracy at predicting world events in the next 18 months. Individuals with exceptional accuracy are assembled into super teams and their performance further improve beating paid analysts.

Tetlock readily admits that no forecasts of world events three years out have any better chance of happening better than a chimpanzee with a dart -- he even authored a study on the subject. He does an excellent job describing the process and the results. Also, to his credit, he details criticism of his process by others.

As a research overview, I give it high marks. It will appeal to those who like to understand how forecasting geopolitical forecasting study was approached by one specific, successful team -- a team that won the competition. Also, Tetlock is clear on how this was accomplished. This book is not about the general topic of forecasting. The book rated a 3 because it is stuck. It did not go full-metal-jacket statistical, nor did it show the impact of the approach. For me, it's a meh.
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- G. House Sr. "I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction."

Not totally pointless

I recently enrolled in a sports prediction ring with some friends and I chose this book because I wanted to see if it might give me some insights into the art/science of prediction in general. Clearly the focus of this book is not sport at all, but I thought there must be some generalizable, transferable aspects – and there are. But on the whole I’d say the book mainly matched my existing perceptions of how to predict the future, although I did pick up a few nice nuggets along the way and there was some value in the book’s confirmation of some things I felt already knew.

The author states that there is no such thing as fate and that everything is the result of happenstance and probability. For example, I know that my being born was the random product of the circumstances of my parents’ meeting, the fact that none of their parents were killed in World War 2, the arbitrary time and place where I was conceived and the incredible odds against me winning a sperm race. I've never believed that life is predetermined by fate or destiny. So this was not news to me at all.

So how do you make good predictions? A few things help: It helps to be numerate, to diligently study the subject matter in question, to update your predictions as circumstances change, to keep an open mind.

There were a few things I hadn’t realised, such as the fact that lay people predict the future just as well, if not better, than experts - as long as they do the necessary research – and also, that groups fare better than individuals. There is a kind of ‘emergent property’ of groups whereby the totality is greater than the sum of the parts, as long as the group members interact cooperatively.

Overall I’d say that this book is worth the read, but I predict with 73% certainty that I’ll have forgotten it in 6 months’ time.
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- Mark "I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-29-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios