Future Babble: Why Pundits Are Hedgehogs and Foxes Know Best

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Penguin, Mar 17, 2011 - Psychology - 320 pages
2 Reviews
An award-winning journalist uses landmark research to debunk the whole expert prediction industry, and explores the psychology of our obsession with future history.

In 2008, experts predicted gas would hit $20 a gallon; it peaked at $4.10. In 1967, they said the USSR would be the world's fastest-growing economy by 2000; by 2000, the USSR no longer existed. In 1908, it was pronounced that there would be no more wars in Europe; we all know how that turned out. Face it, experts are about as accurate as dart- throwing monkeys. And yet every day we ask them to predict the future- everything from the weather to the likelihood of a terrorist attack. Future Babble is the first book to examine this phenomenon, showing why our brains yearn for certainty about the future, why we are attracted to those who predict it confidently, and why it's so easy for us to ignore the trail of outrageously wrong forecasts.

In this fast-paced, example-packed, sometimes darkly hilarious book, journalist Dan Gardner shows how seminal research by UC Berkeley professor Philip Tetlock proved that the more famous a pundit is, the more likely he is to be right about as often as a stopped watch. Gardner also draws on current research in cognitive psychology, political science, and behavioral economics to discover something quite reassuring: The future is always uncertain, but the end is not always near.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MartinBodek - LibraryThing

This book = The Black Swan x Freakonomics steroids. I loved the argument set forth in the book and the examples used to prove them, as I make this argument all the time: you can't predict anything, why don't you just quit it? Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lamour - LibraryThing

It is going to be difficult to read another prediction without thinking of this book. Gardner pokes holes in the prognostications of many famous analysts and talking heads. Dividing these thinkers ... Read full review

Contents

ARE EXPERTS REALLY SO BAD?
THE EXPERIMENT
ABOUT THAT FUNNY OLD WORLD
BILLIARD BALLS WITH EYES
MONKEYS AND CHAOS
THE DEMOGRAPHY OF UNCERTAINTY
WHITHER OIL?
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PREDICTABLE PEAK?
CUI BONO?
YESTERDAYS NEWS
CAPRICORNS ARE HONEST INTELLIGENT HARDWORKING GULLIBLE
PETER SCHIFF WAS RIGHT
HANG THE INNOCENT
MAKING EVERYTHING FIT
EXPERTS ON THE DEFENSIVE
JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION
ENTER THE KLUGE
SEEING THINGS
ALWAYS CONFIDENT ALWAYS RIGHT
BETTER A FOX THAN A HEDGEHOG
THINK OF AN EXAMPLE
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT
ITS 2023 AND AN ASTEROID WIPES OUT AUSTRALIA
FORGET WHAT WE SAID ABOUT THAT OTHER ASIAN COUNTRY AND LISTEN TO THIS
THE AGONY OF NOT KNOWING
INTRODUCING THE RENOWNED PROFESSOR DR MYRON L FOX
THE CONFIDENCE GAME
TELL ME A STORY
NOW PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND GO ONTHE TONIGHT SHOW
THE EHRLICH LESSON
A SWING AND A MISS AND NOBODY CARES
ITS A HIT AND THE CROWD GOES WILD
ROBERT HEILBRONER
LORD WILLIAM REESMOGG
PAUL EHRLICH
THE FANS
I PREDICT YOU WILL OBJECT
DOING IT BETTER
A FINAL OBJECTION
A SPOONFUL OF SKEPTICISM
CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 2
CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 6
CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 8
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About the author (2011)

DAN GARDNER is the New York Times bestselling author of books about psychology and decision-making. His books have been published in 21 countries and 17 languages.

In The Science of Fear, Gardner reveals why we so often worry about what we shouldn’t and don’t worry about what we should. The Guardian called it “an invaluable resource for anyone who aspires to think clearly.”

In Future Babble, Gardner looks at the dismal record of expert forecasts and why we keep listening to overconfident pundits. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker said it “should be required reading for journalists, politicians, academics, and anyone who listens to them.”

In Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, Gardner and co-author Philip Tetlock distill important lessons about forecasting, teamwork, and good judgment. Superforecasting was chosen as one of the best books of 2015 by The Economist, Bloomberg, and Amazon.


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