I was delighted to learn of the study that made his name.
In 20 years looking at 30,000 predictions, the so-called experts not only performed worse than chance (‘no better than a chimp on a dartboard’ his cuddlesome Hans Rosling style phrase) but also the higher the esteem in which they were held, the more wild out they were. At last.
Echoes of Noreena Hertz and a juicy reminder of sci-fi author Robert Heinlein’s disdain and the like on which I’ve blogged before.
For his latest print, he compared non-expert forecasts with supposed sages in a field.
Unsurprisingly, a group of such randoms shone ahead.
Their rather earth-unshattering tactics include; to read around, keep open minds, be willing to change their mind, and break issues down into manageable chunks.
I’m reminded of the further dig at hindsight which runs roughly, ‘anyone can justify anything as inevitable after it has happened’.
As other aged wisdom calls, ‘when facts change, so can your opinion’.
Don’t get stuck in looking at your forecast through yesterdays specs.
As Prof Tetlock summed up in London’s Times;
“Good judgment shouldn’t be about being Nostradamus.
It is about being willing to change your mind in response to evidence.
It’s a very painful, granular, belief updating in response to subtle or not so subtle clues … “
If you’re in a position where others converse – no matter how brief – with your prospects – from spouse to pre-sale techie to management to any assistive capacity – give them a list of all your deals. Which ones do they tick off as coming in?