Some Thoughts On Forecasting From Various Authors

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

Nils Bohr

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.”

Evan Esar

“A good forecaster is not smarter than everyone else, he merely has his ignorance better organised. ”


“Forecasting is the art of saying what will happen, and then explaining why it didn’t! ”


“An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than for illumination. ”

After Andrew Lang


Some Thoughts On Superforecasting By Philip Tetlock

“For scientists, not knowing is exciting. It’s an opportunity to discover; the more that is unknown, the greater the opportunity.”

Philip E. Tetlock

“Suppose someone says, “Unfortunately, the popularity of soccer, the world’s favorite pastime, is starting to decline.” You suspect he is wrong. How do you question the claim? Don’t even think of taking a personal shot like “You’re silly.” That only adds heat, not light. “I don’t think so” only expresses disagreement without delving into why you disagree. “What do you mean?” lowers the emotional temperature with a question but it’s much too vague. Zero in. You might say, “What do you mean by ‘pastime’?” or “What evidence is there that soccer’s popularity is declining? Over what time frame?” The answers to these precise questions won’t settle the matter, but they will reveal the thinking behind the conclusion so it can be probed and tested. Since Socrates, good teachers have practiced precision questioning, but still it’s often not used when it’s needed most. Imagine how events might have gone if the Kennedy team had engaged in precision questioning when planning the Bay of Pigs invasion: “So what happens if they’re attacked and the plan falls apart?” “They retreat into the Escambray Mountains, where they can meet up with other anti-Castro forces and plan guerrilla operations.” “How far is it from the proposed landing site in the Bay of Pigs to the Escambray Mountains?” “Eighty miles.” “And what’s the terrain?” “Mostly swamp and jungle.” “So the guerrillas have been attacked. The plan has fallen apart. They don’t have helicopters or tanks. But they have to cross eighty miles of swamp and jungle before they can begin to look for shelter in the mountains? Is that correct?” I suspect that this conversation would not have concluded “sounds good!” Questioning like that didn’t happen, so Kennedy’s first major decision as president was a fiasco. The lesson was learned, resulting in the robust but respectful debates of the Cuban missile crisis—which exemplified the spirit we encouraged among our forecasters.”

Philip E. Tetlock

“It follows that the goal of forecasting is not to see what’s coming. It is to advance the interests of the forecaster and the forecaster’s tribe.”

Philip E. Tetlock

“Here’s a very simple example,” says Annie Duke, an elite professional poker player, winner of the World Series of Poker, and a former PhD-level student of psychology. “Everyone who plays poker knows you can either fold, call, or raise [a bet]. So what will happen is that when a player who isn’t an expert sees another player raise, they automatically assume that that player is strong, as if the size of the bet is somehow correlated at one with the strength of the other person’s hand.” This is a mistake.”

Philip E. Tetlock

“If you don’t get this elementary, but mildly unnatural, mathematics of elementary probability into your repertoire, then you go through a long life like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.”

Charles T. Munger

Here is a video from Philip Tetlock on having an open mind:

Some Thoughts On Various Subjects From Steven Berlin Johnson

Steven Berlin Johnson is the author of books such as Where Good Ideas Come From, How We Got To Now, and The Ghost Map.

“Bill Gates (and his successor at Microsoft, Ray Ozzie) are famous for taking annual reading vacations. During the year they deliberately cultivate a stack of reading material—much of it unrelated to their day-to-day focus at Microsoft—and then they take off for a week or two and do a deep dive into the words they’ve stockpiled. By compressing their intake into a matter of days, they give new ideas additional opportunities to network among themselves, for the simple reason that it’s easier to remember something that you read yesterday than it is to remember something you read six months ago.”

Steven Johnson

“This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that the individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network.”

Steven Johnson

“Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”

Steven Johnson

“Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore.”

Steven Johnson

“When you don’t have to ask for permission innovation thrives.”

Steven Johnson

Also, here is a video from the author:

Some Thoughts On Various Subjects From Jared Diamond

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves”

Jared Diamond

“[T]he values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.”

Jared Diamond

“The metaphor is so obvious. Easter Island isolated in the Pacific Ocean — once the island got into trouble, there was no way they could get free. There was no other people from whom they could get help. In the same way that we on Planet Earth, if we ruin our own [world], we won’t be able to get help.”

Jared Diamond

“Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies’ histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.”

Jared Diamond

“It’s striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.”

Jared Diamond

Some Thoughts on Ingenuity From Various Authors

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

Steve Jobs

“You won’t change anything significant in the world if you try to be like it. Change comes when you do something different.”

Shannon L. Alder

“Of all evil-doers, the American is most to be feared; he uses more ingenuity in the planning of his projects, and will take greater risks in carrying them out, than any other malefactor on earth.”

Robert Barr

“Between 1980 and 2000 the number of patents registered in Israel was 7652 compared with 367 for all the Arab countries combined. In 2008 alone is really inventors applied to register 9591 new patents. The equivalent figure for Iran was 50 and for all majority Muslim countries in the world with 5657.”

Niall Ferguson

“Ingenuity and creativity, even for a defeating case of two steps forward and one backward, applied strategically can covert a loss into gain.”

Priyavrat Thareja

Some Thoughts On Creativity And Innovation From Various Authors

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.”

Roger von Oech

“Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future.”

James Bertrand

“Innovation— any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience.”

Warren Bennis

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”

Anthony Jay

“You don’t understand anything unless you understand there are at least 3 ways.”

M. Minsky

Currently Analytically Rereading: Out Of Control By Kevin Kelly

I have begun rereading Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, in my opinion, a 1995 classic on the bringing together of machines and man and making them indistinguishable.

I have only gotten in to this barely, around twelve pages, but it has several lines that I feel like would be of interest to our readers:

From Page 1: “Machines are becoming more biological and the biological is becoming engineered.”

From Page 2: “That is, the more mechanical we make our fabricated environment, the more biological it will eventually have to be if it is to work at all.”

From Page 3: “As we look at human efforts to create complex mechanical things, again and again we return to nature for directions.”

Here is a talk from Kevin Kelly about technology and it being alive in a sense: