Review: Superforecasting, Philip E. Tetlock

Rating: 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed this one — it has both depth and focus, and the structure of the novel is a bit clearer than the oft-mentioned ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. That said, the main drawback for me was the author’s failure to illustrate the benefit of forecasting in a personal view. The examples that were given were all major events (wars, political upheaval, elections, etc) and not something of potentially more use to an individual — the various questions related to our everyday doings.

Now, it is certain that one can take the methodology utilised herein and make it work from a personal point of view, but I wish the author would have spelled that out more clearly. One of the examples, was, to be fair, of a person who had lost their incomes in the GFC and had been shocked into forecasting since then. However, this is a bit of a backward stance and it still did not seem as if this higher perception of public affairs was being used to impact the individual’s personal sphere.

And, I say this because while it is obviously useful to be aware of what is going on in the public sphere, the only way to actually make a meaningful impact in our lives is to utilise this information. Sure, I could forecast rather accurately who the next President/Prime Minister or anything else is going to be — but how does that get me to figure out what I need to do to ensure that my future continues in its possible best way?

So, that is the question I wish the author would have asked. Even without it, this is a monumental work which helps shape perception, but with it we would have been talking of a top class novel. I would read it alongside Kahneman and others even so, for it does help us — but I think a sequel deserves to be written which helps us even more.

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