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. Weaving together
stories of forecasting successes (the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound) and
failures (the Bay of Pigs) and interviews with a range of high-level decision
makers, from David Petraeus to Robert Rubin, they show that good forecasting
doesn’t require powerful computers or arcane methods. It involves gathering
evidence from a variety of sources, thinking probabilistically, working in
teams, keeping score, and being willing to admit error and change course. 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.