Predicting the Future Is Possible. These ‘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 to classified information that Tetlock’s team didn’t have.

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