Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

Philip Tetlock writes: Like many hardball operators before and since, Vladimir Lenin insisted politics, defined broadly, was nothing more than a struggle for power, or as he memorably put it, “kto, kogo?” That literally means “who, whom” and it was Lenin’s shorthand for “Who does what to whom?” Arguments and evidence are lovely adornments but what matters is the ceaseless contest to be the kto, not the kogo. It follows that the goal of forecasting is not to see what’s coming. It is to advance the interests of the forecaster and the forecaster’s tribe. Accurate forecasts may help do that sometimes, and when they do accuracy is welcome, but it is pushed aside if that’s what the pursuit of power requires. Earlier, I discussed Jonathan Schell’s 1982 warning that a holocaust would certainly occur in the near future “unless we rid ourselves of our nuclear arsenals,” which was clearly not an accurate forecast. Schell wanted to rouse readers to join the swelling nuclear disarmament movement. He did. So his forecast was not accurate, but did it fail? Lenin would say it did exactly what it was supposed to do.


* ‘Forecasting’ to ‘promote the interests of the individual or tribe’ is, of course, not forecasting but propaganda pure and simple.

As Tetlock notes, the way to call out propaganda is to take heed of who is actually issuing the propaganda, and what does he personally have to gain from disseminating those opinions.

* Hence – eg ‘Climate Change’ – once people have control of the levers of power they can make whatever forecasts will best serve their agenda, and everyone else has to believe it or be punished.

* A good, blatantly obvious and very recent example of this can be seen with official statements coming out of Germany regarding the so-called ‘migrant’ crisis.

We are most sternly lectured that the ‘migrants’ are ‘good’ for Germany since, as we are reminded, that Germany has ‘dire demographics’ and is in urgent need of a transfusion of young, fresh blood to do all the work, (the rantings of vampires, apparently).

Strange that a mere 6 months ago, before all this rubbish kicked off, nobody but nobody, least of all the German government was sending out desperate appeals to the world to round up every spare warm body in sight and to pack them off to man German factories.

As Johnny Rotten famously smirked ‘ Ha..ha..ha….ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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