Predicting the Future Is Possible. ‘Superforecasters’ Know How.
Can we predict the future more accurately? It’s a question we humans have grappled with since the dawn of civilization — one that has massive implications for how we run our organizations, how we make policy decisions, and how we live our everyday lives. It’s also the question that Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction,” has dedicated his career to answering. In 2011, he recruited and trained a team of ordinary citizens to compete in a forecasting tournament sponsored by the U.S. intelligence community. Participants were asked to place numerical probabilities from 0 to 100 percent on questions like “Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile in the next year” and “Is Greece going to leave the eurozone in the next six months?” Tetlock’s group of amateur forecasters would go head-to-head against teams of academics as well as career intelligence analysts, including those from the C.I.A., who had access