Daily catch-up: why don't we take a more scientific approach to predicting the future?

Plus the latest on the Hillary email scandal, Thatcher vol. 2 and the nirvana fallacy

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Dominic Cummings, the unboxed thinker who ran the shadow campaign in case there were a referendum on joining the euro and who was Michael Gove's special adviser, has reviewed Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner's Superforecasting for The Spectator. He makes the point that Professor Tetlock's ideas were picked up by "an obscure American intelligence agency" but have not yet been taken up much by professional or government forecasters.

I wrote about Superforecasting for The Independent on Sunday and for the catch-up. My main interest was selfish, in the hope of learning something about how to improve my ability to predict politics. But Cummings makes a good point about the lack of interest generally in applying rigorous and systematic lessons from measurable tests of forecasts to the prediction business. 

If you want to sign up to Professor Tetlock's Good Judgement programme, it is here. I spoke to him last week and hope to write more about him soon. 

 The Hillary Clinton email scandal continues to develop. Apparently she sent and received some electronic messages. Some of them were mildly amusing, such as her account of her attempt to persuade a White House telephone operator she was who she said she was. 

 Charles Moore's second volume of his official biography of Margaret Thatcher is published on the 19th. It is 821 pages and covers just five years, from 1982 to 1987. Elizabeth Grice spoke to him.

 Ian Leslie's essay for the New Statesman on the "nirvana fallacy" afflicting Jeremy Corbyn's supporters is sharp and accurate. The fallacy is the tendency to assume that there is a perfect solution to a problem.

A politician who uses the nirvana fallacy gains an easy rhetorical advantage. He can paint inspiring pictures of his perfect world, and attack the existing state of affairs for not living up to it. He can accuse anyone who doesn’t accept its plausibility as cynical, lacking in vision, or principle.

But this advantage comes at a cost, because the nirvana fallacy makes you stupid. It stops you from doing the hard, gritty thinking about how to improve the world we have, since, faced with a series of complex, imperfect options, you overleap them to reach the sunlit uplands of an ideal scenario. Soon, you forget how to think about the real world at all.

 And finally, thanks to Moose Allain ‏for this: 

"French memes are all the same."

Comments