Predicting is Not By Luck But a Skill.
“Foresight isn’t a mysterious gift bestowed at birth. It is the product of particular ways of thinking, of gathering information, of updating beliefs. These habits of thought can be learned and cultivated by any intelligent, thoughtful, determined person.” – Phillip Tetlock, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
In today’s world, life has never been more uncertain. Extenuating circumstances often leave us feeling bereft of the assurances we’ve come to depend on, and we must learn to adapt and predict results more quickly than ever before.
Prediction is a critical skill in all facets of life. When faced with uncertainties, decision-making relies heavily on our ability to accurately evaluate outcomes, as the results will determine who we become and whether or not we are successful in our endeavors. It is a skill that takes time to cultivate, but if nurtured, can result in life-altering opportunities that open a world of fulfillment.
Take stock and sports analysts, for example. These are high-frequency prediction sectors, and many so-called expert analysts are touting “facts'' without mastering the art of predicting. These predictions fall short.
Financial reporters do not get paid based on their accuracy; they get paid for their ratings. They are entertainers (I mean, who doesn’t love when Jim Cramer yells out “Boo-yah!” on Mad Money?). The average accuracy for these financial “gurus” is just 47% – slightly worse than a random coin flip. Sports experts predicting NFL results for the season are often less accurate than well-informed amateurs.
“Superforecasters are intelligent, but more importantly, they’re open-minded, deeply curious, and adept at sidestepping their own cognitive biases. Not everyone is cut out to be a superforecaster, but by studying the way superforecasters make predictions, anyone can improve their ability to predict the future.” – Tetlock
Cognitive bias is besieging the US, and you often see this mistake within political predictions. A person with a particular political affiliation will only look for “facts” that bolster the outcome they want, excluding anything that allows them to see the complete picture. This same phenomenon happens when the average person makes predictions, and it is why it takes a specific type of person to be an excellent super predictor. The rose-colored glasses must come off, allowing the truth to be laid bare. Beliefs cannot lead predictions. They must be expelled, expunged, scrounged out so that the certainties can take point and guide the projections.
Much like athletes undergo specific training regimens to become professionals, so, too, must predictors. Excellent predictors have certain intrinsic qualities that allow them to assess a situation thoroughly and anticipate the consequences. Still, they must continuously keep a receptive mindset and gather evidence to hone their skill. Constant adjustments and improvements are critical to success.