"I’m just a pharmacist," she said. "Nobody cares about me, nobody knows my name, I don’t have a professional reputation at stake. And it’s this anonymity which actually gives me freedom to make true forecasts." Rich does make true forecasts; she is curiously good at predicting future world events. (via NPR)
- For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of the Good Judgment Project, an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community.
- According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions.
- Rich’s numbers worked out incredibly well. She’s in the top 1 percent of the 3,000 forecasters now involved in the experiment, which means she has been classified as a superforecaster, someone who is extremely accurate. In fact, she’s so good she’s been put on a special team with other superforecasters whose predictions are reportedly 30 percent better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information.
- "Everyone has been surprised by these outcomes," said Philip Tetlock, one of the three psychologists who came up with the idea for the Good Judgment Project. The other two are Barbara Mellers and Don Moore. For most of his professional career, Tetlock studied the problems associated with expert decision making. His book Expert Political Judgment is considered a classic, and almost everyone in the business of thinking about judgment speaks of it with unqualified awe.
- if you want people to get better at making predictions, you need to keep score of how accurate their predictions turn out to be, so they have concrete feedback. But also, if you take a large crowd of different people with access to different information and pool their predictions, you will be in much better shape than if you rely on a single very smart person, or even a small group of very smart people. “The wisdom of crowds is a very important part of this project, and it’s an important driver of accuracy,” Tetlock said.
- What’s so challenging about all of this is the idea that you can get very accurate predictions about geopolitical events without access to secret information. In addition, access to classified information doesn’t automatically and necessarily give you an edge over a smart group of average citizens doing Google searches from their kitchen table