by Daniel Kahneman
Philip Tetlock’s 2005 book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? demonstrated that accurate long-term political forecasting is, to a good approximation, impossible. The work was a landmark in social science, and its importance was quickly recognized and rewarded in two academic disciplines—political science and psychology. Perhaps more significantly, the work was recognized in the intelligence community, which accepted the challenge of investing significant resources in a search for improved accuracy. The work is ongoing, important discoveries are being made, and Tetlock gives us a chance to peek at what is happening.
Tetlock’s current message is far more positive than his earlier dismantling of long-term political forecasting. He focuses on the near term, where accurate prediction is possible to some degree, and he takes on the task of making political predictions as accurate as they can be. He has successes to report. As he points out in his comments, these successes will be destabilizing to many institutions, in ways both multiple and profound. With some confidence, we can predict that another landmark of applied social science will soon be reached.'
Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 2002, is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University and author of Thinking Fast and Slow.