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Superforecasting summary

Philip E. Tetlock & Dan Gardner

The Art and Science of Prediction

3.8 (117 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Superforecasting by Philip E. Tetlock & Dan Gardner is a book that explores the art of accurate prediction. It introduces the concept of "superforecasters" and provides practical strategies for improving our forecasting abilities in an uncertain world.

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    Superforecasting
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    What does it take to be a superforecaster?

    Bill Flack, a 55-year-old retiree who used to work for the US Department of Agriculture in Arizona, has lots of free time. He uses some of that time to make forecasts.

    He answers questions – important ones. They’re questions that companies, banks, embassies, and intelligence agencies have difficulty with. These are questions like, “Will Russia annex additional Ukraine territories in the next three months?” or “Will one of the EU countries withdraw from the Eurozone within the next year?”

    The thing about Flack is that although he might not have any idea about the answers to such questions when he first sees them, he does his research and gets as much information about the topic as he can before he decides how to answer.

    All of Flack’s answers have been documented and checked for accuracy by independent scientists. His success rate is remarkable. Unfortunately, nobody actually bases decisions on Flack’s predictions. You see, Flack is one of thousands of others who are all answering the same questions. They’re all volunteers, and only about two percent of them are as good as Flack at making predictions. They come from all walks of life, and they’re part of the Good Judgement Project, or GJP, a research project cocreated by Philip Tetlock and two other professors at the University of Pennsylvania.

    The GJP was part of a larger research project carried out by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, which set up a forecasting tournament. The GJP was one of five teams pitted against each other to answer nearly 500 questions on world affairs over a four-year period. In the first year, GJP outperformed the control group by 60 percent. In year two, that increased to 78 percent.

    Out of the research came two key conclusions. First, some people have real foresight and can make accurate judgments about important events that might happen up to 18 months in the future. And second, it isn’t important who the person is, but rather what they do. Becoming good at forecasting is more about how you think, gather information, and update your beliefs – skills that any intelligent, thoughtful person who is determined enough can learn.

    We’ll cover the techniques in the rest of this Blink.

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    What is Superforecasting about?

    Superforecasting (2015) delves into the art and science of predicting the future, highlighting how most individuals, even experts, often falter in their forecasting abilities. Through captivating stories of successes and failures, as well as interviews with high-profile decision-makers, it unveils the secrets behind effective forecasting: a combination of evidence-based thinking, probabilistic reasoning, accountability, and adaptability.

    Superforecasting Review

    Superforecasting (2015) explores the art and science of accurate predictions, revealing why some people are better at forecasting than others. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful case studies and interviews with superforecasters, helping readers understand the strategies they use to make accurate predictions.
    • Backed by extensive research and data analysis, the book offers practical techniques that can improve decision-making and increase the accuracy of our own predictions.
    • The book challenges common misconceptions about forecasting, offering fascinating insights into the psychology behind accurate predictions and highlighting the limitations of expert opinion.

    Who should read Superforecasting?

    • Aspiring decision-makers seeking insight into forecasting techniques
    • Science enthusiasts interested in probability and prediction
    • Amateur forecasters and wannabe superforecasters looking to hone their skills

    About the Author

    Philip E. Tetlock is the Annenberg University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He's a co-leader of the multi-year Good Judgment Project and is the author of Expert Political Judgment and coauthor of Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics with Aaron Belkin. Over his career, he's published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and earned recognition from scientific entities such as the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association.

    Dan Gardner is a New York Times best-selling author renowned for his writings on psychology and decision-making. His influential books have achieved global recognition, being published in 25 countries and translated into 19 languages. Before his success as an author, Gardner had an illustrious career in Canadian newspaper journalism, securing numerous accolades and later transitioning to delivering lectures on forecasting, risk, and decision-making.

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    Superforecasting FAQs 

    What is the main message of Superforecasting?

    Superforecasting provides insights into how to make accurate predictions by combining human judgment and data-driven analysis.

    How long does it take to read Superforecasting?

    The reading time for Superforecasting varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Superforecasting a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Superforecasting is a must-read for anyone interested in improving their decision-making abilities. It offers valuable strategies and examples for becoming a better forecaster.

    Who is the author of Superforecasting?

    Superforecasting is authored by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner.

    What to read after Superforecasting?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Superforecasting, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
    • In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté
    • Win Every Argument by Mehdi Hasan
    • Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
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