Book Review: Superforecasting-The Art and Science of Prediction

We all wish to look into the future. Crystal balls, tarot cards and palm reading are some of the unscientific ways in which mankind has tried to answer important questions about the future. Then there are the supposedly ‘scientific’ prediction tools. But are these really effective? To paraphrase Philip Tetlock, the author of Superforecasting, when the accuracy most predictions are no better than darts thrown by monkeys, one begins to question the basis for such predictions. However, there still seem to be some individuals who have a high rate of success –“superforecasters”.

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In Superforecasting, Tetlock shows that this seemingly supernatural ability to predict is simply the result of following some basic principles –using precise measurement critieria (i.e. using number instead of grades), following the news and updating one’s predictions often, applying lessons from the past to the present scenario and broadening one’s vision. It is more a mindset than a toolbox. To explain these principles he relies on case studies from his Good Judgement Project. The book is thus grounded on sound research.

Written in simple, engaging style, the book is an enjoyable read. The book has been compared to Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, and it is indeed a book in the same vein, showcasing recent research in teh field of critical thinking. One criticism that I would make on a personal level is that I felt the book getting repetitive in the middle.

The book is by no means a complete exploration of “superforecasting”, but it is an authoritative text on the same. More importantly, it encourages us to think more critically when making predictions.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

Author Bio: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/2129963/philip-e-tetlock/

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