Elaine Rich Interview

In this episode (recorded 7/12/17), we interview superforecaster and pharmacist Elaine Rich. Elaine started with Good Judgment in the first year of IARPA-ACE forecasting tournament after reading about the project on FiveThirtyEight. She was interviewed by NPR in 2014 about her experience with Good Judgment in a segment called “So You Think You’re Smarter Than a CIA Agent”.

We start by talking with Elaine about her experience forecasting at the beginning of the Good Judgment Project, the advantages of forecasting anonymously, why she doesn’t like forecasting subjects close to her professional expertise, and whether accurate forecasting really matters. We also talk about whether forecasting ability is something innate you are born with or something you learn or can train, whether gut instincts are any good, and the value of good journalism for forecasting. Elaine ends the interview by recommending the Joni Mitchell album Hejira—and in particular the song “Amelia”—as forecasting music.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Football With Knives

We kick off this episode (recorded 6/21/17) with a discussion of Romanian politics and tax policy. We move on to the recent special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district to replace Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, the Republican healthcare bill’s prospects in the Senate, whether military action could make President Trump more popular, and whether Nancy Pelosi makes it harder for Democrats to win elections. We close the episode by talking about  “Trump’s Mirror”, Kansas’s experiment in conservative economics, and how the Supreme Court might rule in the upcoming partisan gerrymandering case.

Here’s a link to the Frank Rich interview of Chris Rock we mention in the podcast. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Trump Forecasting Models

In this episode (recorded 6/14/17), Atief and Scott welcome Robert back from his vacation in Canada and catch him up on the news—and in particular on former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony—while he was gone. Next they talk about the apparent rise in political violence in the US. Then they consider various models for understanding and forecasting the Trump administration. They close the episode by considering the COVFEFE Act and the significance of President Trump’s twitter account.

The episode’s intro music is a clip from Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town”. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

The Fisher Protocol

In this episode (recorded 6/8/17)—produced while Robert was on vacation—Atief and Scott ask whether probability broke in 2016. They start by talking about former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Atief argues that Comey’s testimony is pivotal in the sense that how politicians react to it will determine how we should forecast future events.

Atief and Scott discuss “the Fisher Protocol”, Harvard Law professor Roger Fisher’s suggestion that the nuclear launch codes should be implanted next to the heart of a volunteer so that the president would have to kill the volunteer in order to use nuclear weapons. Atief and Scott also talk about political violence and partisanship in light of the May 26 attack on a commuter train in Portland and the June 3 London Bridge attack; the state of Kansas’ experiment in conservative economics; the snap election in the UK; and whether President Trump will discover his pardon power this year.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Special Counsel

In this episode (recorded 5/17/17), we discuss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in last year’s US election. We try to forecast whether recent revelations will ultimately lead to President Trump’s impeachment or resignation. Would a Congress of Marcus Aureliuses impeach Trump? Is there any abuse of office that would convince Republicans to vote for impeachment? Is Robert Mueller America’s Batman?

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

The Brief Wondrous Tenure of Jim Comey

In this episode (recorded 5/10/17)—recorded the day after it happened—we look at the implications of President Trump’s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey.

We talk about whether we think Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will appoint Special Counsel to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia (which he did this week), what President Trump might do with the pardon power, whether we should expect widespread voter suppression in 2018, what motivates the Republican Party, who the next FBI Director will be, whether President could be removed from office, and how President Trump is like the Mule from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series.

We end the podcast with an anecdote about and a plug for Nigel Shakespear’s book Times New Romanian.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Happy Summer Forecasts

In this episode (recorded 5/3/17), we take a little break from politics to make some summer forecasts. We start by talking about climate change and whether catastrophe losses are likely to increase this year.

Next we make our forecasts for the movies and songs of the summer. Robert says the biggest movie will be either “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” or “Despicable Me 3”. Atief guesses it will be “Spiderman: Homecoming” and  that “It Comes at Night” could be a sleeper hit, but thinks that “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” will be a major flop. Robert thinks that either Kyle’s “iSpy” featuring Lil Yachty or Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” has a chance to be this summer’s jam. Robert and Atief agree that there are about even odds that the top song on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 1 will have the word “featuring” in the artist line and also that there are close to even odds that one of the top two songs will feature Drake in some way.

Then we return to politics. We talk about the acrimonious debate between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen and Scott gives Macron a 97% chance of winning the French presidential election. We also discuss whether FBI Director James Comey swung the US presidential election to Donald Trump. We end the podcast—which was recorded the night before the revised Republican health care bill did pass in the House—by giving it a roughly 50% chance of passing in the House.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com. If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Rare Birds

We start this episode (recorded 4/26/17) by talking about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership and giving our analysis of the first round of the French election. We go on to speculate about what President Trump might do to to make his first 100 days in office look more impressive—would he retaliate against Venezuela for seizing a General Motors’ factory? or withdraw from NAFTA? or simply send someone to Mars? We end the episode by wondering whether Trump’s wall is real or figurative, before briefly considering the March for Science and Romanian pop music.

The opening audio clip is from this video of comedian Stephen Fry narrating as zoologist Mark Carwadine is shagged by a rare parrot. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Trump Bets and the French Election

We start this episode (recorded 4/20/17) by discussing Atief’s application to be Paddy Power’s new Head of Trump Betting. We consider possible Trump bets Atief could propose—how many rounds of golf will Donald Trump play in 2017? will Trump appoint Bill O’Reilly to an position in the executive branch? We go on to talk about what it means that House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz announced that he won’t seek reelection, the prospects for the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington’s (CREW) suit alleging Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and whether Trump will invite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the White House.

In the second part of the episode, we talk about the probability of a North Korean nuclear test in the near future, the first round of the French election and the possibility of a Frexit, the influence of corporate shareholders on politics and the importance of labor unions, and the deconstruction of the administrative state. We end the episode by talking about what kind of meat they eat in Romania and wondering what kind of person eats expensive steaks well-done with ketchup.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Roman Hagelstein Interview

In part one of our interview with German economist and superforecaster Roman Hagelstein (recorded 4/14/17), we discuss how Roman’s German background affects his forecasting, how he gamed one of the Good Judgment Project’s forecasting markets, the value of “extremizing” forecasts, and why civil wars tend to last a long time.

In part two of our interview with Roman, we discuss American policy in Syria and what Germans think about German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Then we talk about the Brier Fund, a private investment fund run by superforecasters, and about the challenge of forecasting financial markets. After a digression on who will win Most Valuable Player in the NBA this year, we finish up by talking about the chance of a crisis related to North Korea in the near future.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunes and Google Play. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, you can use our contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com. If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.