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Tetlock has done some fascinating research for the U.S. national security services to find that some individuals tend to be significantly better at forecasting (the "superforecasters") than most others, including the so-called experts. The focus is on relatively precise, relatively short-term forecasts that can therefore be measured. The superforecasters tend to be "foxes" scanning their environment for bits of intelligence rather than "hedgehogs" who have and stick to one big idea. Unfortunately, the material tends to be repetitive, redundant and rather too interested in glorifying Tetlock's work. His nominal co-author is Dan Gardner, a fine writer whose earlier book, Risk, admittedly drawing on Tetlock's work, is actually a much better and in many ways more insightful read. I would recommend Gardner's book to anyone interested in analysing risk. Tetlock's not so much.
I must confess that I sprang from the same waters that the author did and so my rating may have been unduly influenced by my fond memories of seeing tenured professors scampering behind Daniel hoping to pick up a golden crumb by sitting next to him in the faculty club. Although I was not part of the inner circle of lap dogs, it was generally accepted that a year of eating next to him was enough to base a career on and a lunch was worth a paper. This is one of the crumbs. The methodology is sound even though the premise that the future will be like the past may not be as study. Nevertheless, this book is a good start for anyone that might place too much confidence in the talking heads that they might see on TV.
Superforecasting was a very interesting read. It sheds good light on what it means to make a forecast beyond the vague statements of public figures, and what the methodologies and mentalities of good forecasters look like. I enjoyed it.
Worked well as a collection of anecdotes describing people who have shown better than average success in forecasting, but as a teaching document that will show you how to match such success, "Superforecasting" does not give away all of the secrets. In the end, superforecasting is shown to be more of an art than a science.
The lengthy historical description may seem difficult to afford at first, but it has value to support the points that are exposed. I have learned a lot and expect to use the method in my work. Thanks for bringing these study results from the somewhat underground intelligence to the general public in an understandable and vividid manner.
This book will become another arrow in your quiver of forecasting tools. For those who try to gradually improve their forecasts, this book offers an introduction to methods and will help you set off on a journey of learning more.
I found this fascinating. I was highlighting far more sections than I usually do for rereading. This book shows that reasonably accurate short term forecasts are possible but unfortunately demonstrates that it takes a degree of rigorous that most people aren't likely to expend.
This book was recommended to me by a friend because both of us occasionally need to forecast as part of our jobs. In many aspects of this book it was like reading about how granny sucked eggs. A lot of the book covers theory on what makes an accurate forecast. There are some nuggets of insight on good forecasting which is nicely surmised in the appendix with the 11 commandments of Superforecasting.
The issue with the book is not the material of the content but the padding. There seems to be a lot of it. This is a 300+ page book that can be edited down to half the size without losing information. Many of the same examples of Superforecasting were repeated more than once.
It was funny to read that a lot of businesses are not actually that interested if a forecast is right or wrong provided the forecast tells them what they want to hear. Talking from experience I know this to be true. In addition other forecasters are reluctant to revisit old forecasts in fear of exposing their inaccuracies, which to me, made zero sense and I am glad Tetlock agrees with this view.
Overall it is a good read, just nothing special if you do this sort of thing for a living.
5.0 out of 5 starsLearn the pitfalls and tips for forecasting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 8, 2018
This book is a great book for understanding forecasting. It explains the methods and personalities of 'Superforecasters', people who Tetlock have studied who consistently outperform experts and non-experts alike in forecasting future events. Not perfect predictions, mind you, but consistently better statistically. What do they do differently than ordinary people to perform so well? Tetlock gives his best explanation in this book.
One criticism I have is that I would've liked it to better slightly less "popular" science; include a bit more hard data, remove a little of the padding. However even with this criticism, there was much for me to learn. And it did include substantial references to evidence.
Prediction is an extremely important component to testing whether your hypotheses are correct. Therefore, knowing about prediction is a key issue in science. Anyone who cares a lot about science should read a book like this or something similar. For any such person, I would gladly recommend this book.
4.0 out of 5 starsRecommended for anyone interested in forecasting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2016
"Experts are about as accurate as chimps when predicting the future". This tidbit, so often mentioned when discussing (or dismissing) expert opinion or predictions, originates from the research of Mr. Tetlock on Expert Political Judgement. A natural next step was figuring out if anyone could reliably answer questions about the not so distant future and the result was the Good Judgment Project. The main results are detailed in this book, there indeed exists a group of super-forecasters who manage to constantly out-predict the chimps and experts in the intelligence community. The book describes some of the characteristics of a super-forecaster. Not surprisingly they are, in general, good with numbers and ingest a lot of information. They tend to be slow thinkers, in the sense of Kahneman, and at least in some cases not as much affected by cognitive biases. Super-forecasters, however, are not super-human. Forecasting is a skill that can be learnt or improved.
5.0 out of 5 starsThis book can change your life for the better.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2017
one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. Clearly written, engaging and above all, fantastically useful. Changed my approach to thinking about the future, how to assess it, and make better decisions all round. This book should be required reading for anybody trying to make sense of the world. I can't recommend it highly enough.
5.0 out of 5 starsIn a world where many of the more well known ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2018
In a world where many of the more well known forecasters make grand predictions many years into the future with apparent certainty, Tetlock's masterpiece is a pertinent reminder that forecasting is usually much more nuanced than that.
5.0 out of 5 starsNot just for looking into the future.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2019
There is a strong correlation between how much I've slept and how easily I'm able to follow this book. Turns out it's a great book and I need to sleep more. If you're thinking to yourself that you don't need to forecast because your job is about looking into the past, this book gives you the skills needed to do better unbiased diagnostics as well.
A brilliantly written and fascinating book. Explains in detail the findings of a massive research programme into forecasting and the approaches to improve it. There are snippets of information that are of use in a number of situations. I have been looking at its use in predictions underpinning risk management assessments. Thoroughly recommended read.
Many fields of human endeavour depend on making forecasts. Being able to make good ones, based on evidence, which avoid most of the now better-recognised cognitive biases we're all susceptible to, is the substance of this book. It ought to be required reading for all decision makers and especially CEOs.
Interesting read. I didn't take much away in terms of life skills however it did make me think... I won't be nodding along with pundits or specialists on the news anymore anyway, if anything I'd be mentally questioning them
Essentielly just a book emphazising not to be over confident in your predictions, and be more granular - i.e forecasting on scales from 1-7 for example rather than simply events being likely to happen or not.
Some other good points aswell, but not the holy grail or anything like that.
5.0 out of 5 starsCommon people have more knowledge than experts.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 13, 2018
Absolutely brilliant. Love the analogy of the Dart throwing monkeys. After reading this book you won't consult experts anymore. Or rather. You would consult real experts and not the ones thinking of them self as such.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood, insightful, and things learned
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 22, 2016
A good book and one whose first hundred pages or so had me gripped. Predictions and forecasting always interested me, and this explains the idea of 'perpetual beta' as a means to obtain accurate foresight. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn.