Episode 24: Striking Syria

We start this episode (recorded 4/5/2017 and updated 4/7/2017) by discussing where the U.S. will rank next year in Transparency International’s global Corruption Perceptions Index.

Next we talk about whether we thought the U.S. would strike Syria in response to Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons in Idlib. Events moved quickly—the U.S did in fact launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase the day after we recorded. So we added a new segment we recorded after the attack to the discussion looking at why we didn’t think a strike was more likely.

We go on to talk about the “nuclear option”, whether the Senate will get rid of the filibuster for legislation, and the Democrats’ chances of retaking Congress. We close the podcast by putting in a plug for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and recommending you use a virtual private network when you’re online.

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 (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 23: I Have No Information

We start this episode (recorded 3/22/17) by talking about what Scott learned teaching forecasting at a Good Judgment training workshop in Sweden. We discuss the value of the Delphi method in combining the individual judgment of forecasters while also allowing them to draw on the wisdom of the crowd. We also talk about the importance of outliers, how to know if we are undergoing a paradigm shift, and the danger of giving too much weight to private information.

Next we talk about Robert’s long weekend on the island of Hawai‘i seeing lava flow into the ocean, stargazing on the top of Mauna Kea, and swimming with honu. Then we consider the prospects for a Republican healthcare bill. We talk about how we try to be objective in a polarized political environment and about whether the Trump administration is credible. We close the podcast by hearing about Atief’s trips to New York to go to museums and see the Groundhog Day musical and to Oklahoma City to see the Thunder play the Warriors.

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 (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 22: Sander Wagner on European Elections

In this episode (recorded 3/7/17), we interview superforecaster and “citizen of nowhere” Sander Wagner. Sander is an assistant professor of quantitative sociology in at Ensae ParisTech.

We start by talking with Sander about his research on intergenerational mobility. We then talk about the upcoming elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany. We end with a discussion of future of Europe now that Trump is the president of the US.

The closing music is a clip from Wu-Tang Clan, “Clan in Da Front”. 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 (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 21: Did Trump Pivot?

In this episode (recorded 3/1/17), we talk about what Wikipedia is really good at, whether Trump’s joint address to Congress represents a meaningful pivot, the possibility of US military action against North Korea, and the theory that we’re all living in a simulation gone haywire.

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 (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 20: A Month in the Age of Trump

In episode 20 (recorded 2/20/17), we cover the first month of the Trump administration. We consider the odds that Trump will put his face on a trillion-dollar coin, debate the limits of presidential power, talk about how we each deal with information overload, and discuss whether Congress will pass a large infrastructure bill this year. We go on to discuss Trump senior counselor Steve Bannon’s theory of American history and the bizarre apparent assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Malaysia. We end by guessing that in the next podcast we’ll be talking about a revised executive order on immigration.

You can also 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 (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 19: Trump Administration Best Bets

In episode 19 (recorded 2/12/17), we discuss the odds President Trump will be impeached, the odds that Trump will win the Nobel Peace Prize, which Trump administration official will be the first to leave office (and decide that at 12-1 odds National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is our best bet to leave office first), what’s wrong with New York Knicks management, whether compromising Russian footage of Trump will appear on RedTube, whether Trump and Melania will split up, whether the Affordable Care Act will be repealed or amended in 2017, who the next justice to leave the Supreme Court will be, and whether the Trump administration will withdraw from the Iran deal.

You can also 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 (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). If you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 18: Hitler’s Mac and Cheese

In episode 18 (recorded 2/1/17), we talk to friend of the podcast and small business owner James about Trump’s “two-for-one” executive order on reducing regulation and about how new technologies like real-time video manipulation might affect our ability to know what is real. Atief goes on to argue that Trump’s supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch is somehow like Hitler’s macaroni and cheese recipe. We close the podcast with a discussion of the recent corruption amnesty protests in Romania.

You can also find NonProphets on iTunes 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 the contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com). And if you enjoy this podcast, please rate us and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 16: Information in the Trump Age

We kick off this episode (recorded on 1/11/17) by discussing effective charitable giving, the value of turkey hunting, and Hawaiian jungle fowl. We go on to talk about Donald Trump’s recent press conference and how we can gather and interpret information in light in the Trump era.

Then we play “Trump v. Obama” by trying to forecast how approval ratings, stock market growth, unemployment rates, and manufacturing employment will compare for the two. We close with by comparing our scores on controversial sociologist Charles Murray’s “bubble quiz”, which was devised as a rough measure of how connected you are to mainstream white American culture.

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

Episode 15: New Year Forecasts

We start our first podcast of 2017 (recorded on 1/4/17) by estimating the over/under on the number of times Donald Trump will mention Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter in 2017. We go on to talk about policy-making an era when people don’t trust scientific expertise. Roberts wonders if the fate of the European Union could turn on the presidential election in France. And we all agree that Trump is more likely to strike the North Korean nuclear program preemptively than Clinton would have been.

We finish by sharing our New Year’s resolutions: Robert wants to write a book; Scott wants to get his Ph.D. dissertation done; and Atief wants to have the hosts of the Atheist Community of Austin radio show that is our namesake (“The Non Prophets”)  come on our podcast as guests. The intro music for this episode is a clip from Death Cab for Cutie, “The New Year”.

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

Episode 14: Seth Baum on Trump Presidency Risk

In our last podcast of 2016 (recorded on 12/22/16), we talk for a second time to Global Catastrophic Risk Institute Executive Director Seth Baum (our first interview with Dr. Baum is here). We discuss Dr. Baum’s recent column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on the risks associated with a Trump presidency. We discussed whether Trump believes in Nixon’s “Madman Theory”of foreign policy, how much damage Trump could do to the global climate change regime, and what ordinary citizens could do to mitigate the risk of catastrophe.

We also look back at our holiday-season predictions. The Pantone 2017 color of the year was “greenery”, which was the color that Scott thought was second most likely. Robert managed to come within $5 million of the opening weekend domestic box office of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We finish up by talking about our holiday plans and also about vampires. Happy New Year and thanks for listening to NonProphets!

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