Guns, Norms, and Democracy

In this episode (recorded 3/5/18), we talk about the impact of the Parkland shooting on US politics; the rapidly shifting Republican orthodoxy; whether democratic norms are weakening; Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index; whether there will be any material change US gun laws in the next six months; and which institutions in the US are seen as corrupt.

The New England Journal of Medicine finding that firearm injuries in the US drop 20% while NRA members are attending national meetings is here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

Incoming Ballistic Missile Alert

We begin this episode (recorded 1/31/18) by talking about what it was like for Robert to wake up to a civil defense alert that a ballistic missile is on its way.

Next we discuss the recent heated forecasting debate on Twitter between Superforecasting author and Good Judgment Project mastermind Philip Tetlock and Black Swan author Nassim Taleb. From there we go on to discuss the famous bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon about whether population growth and consumption would drive up commodity prices and the value of having “skin in the game”.

We close by reviewing the performance of our PredictIt bets on what Trump would say in his State of the Union speech and by speculating about the 2018 US midterm elections and future of the Mueller investigation.

Read superforecaster Roman Hagelstein’s profile in Welt am Sonntag here. Links to our interview with Roman are here. Read a separate profile of superforecasters Sander Wagner and Bruno Jahn in the German edition of Forbes here. Links to our interviews with Sander and Bruno are here and here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

Darkness Rises

In this episode (recorded 12/22/17), we give our thoughts about what will happen in 2018. We start by talking about how we’ve been able to make money forecasting on PredictIt before looking back briefly back at our 2017 forecasts.

Next we make some predictions about 2018: where Amazon will put its second headquarters, whether there will be more disclosures about the US government’s UFO program, the implications of the Mueller investigation, whether Anthony Kennedy will retire, whether Democrats will retake Congress in 2018, whether Bitcoin prices will keep going up, the prospects for bipartisanship in the US, the future of autonomous vehicles, whether we should expect more “doughnut politics”, and where the Star Wars franchise is going.

Our thanks to the superforecasters who talked about 2018 with us. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

No More Roy Moore

We’re back after our holiday podcast-editing hiatus with an episode (recorded 12/13/17) on color, US electoral politics, and the Mueller investigation.

We start by talking about why we got the Pantone’s 2018 color of the year wrong and why we still think Pantone should have chosen Cherry Tomato. Next we talk about the significance of Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore in the Alabama special election. Then we discuss the impact of the #MeToo movement on US politics and why it is important to focus on processes as well as outcomes. We close by discussing the prospects for and possible reaction to the tax bill that Trump ended up signing over the holidays.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

Our Bullshit Podcast

In this episode (recorded 10/19/17), we discuss a 2015 Judgment and Decision Making paper titled “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”. We talk about what bullshit is, why some people seem more susceptible to bullshit than others, and what we can do to become more resistant to bullshit. You can see examples of the kind of computer-generated Deepak Chopra-like statements that the paper calls “pseudo-profound bullshit” here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

Welton Chang Interview

In this episode (recorded 9/20/17), we interview superforecaster Welton Chang. Welton is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Penn in Philip Tetlock and Barb Mellers’ Good Judgment Laboratory. He served in Iraq and South Korea as an intelligence officer in the US Army and as analyst for the Department of Defense.

We start by talking with Welton about how he got involved the Good Judgment Project and the Good Judgment Laboratory. Then we talk about uncertainty in forecasting and Vizzini’s Princess Bride conundrum, the value of algorithmic forecasts (which we also talked about on another recent podcast), the limits of modern warfare, and whether Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are rational actors.

We go on to talk about designing training materials for Good Judgment Project forecasters, IARPA’s CREATE program on improving analytic reasoning, avoiding groupthink, the importance of diversity in forecasting, and the art and practice of applying Bayes’ Theorem. We close with a shout out to Welton’s rescue cats, Percy and Portia.

You can read Welton Chang’s essay on the Iran deal, “Go Set a Watchdog on Iran” here. You can read Evan Osnos’ “The Risk of Nuclear War With North Korea” here. You can follow Welton (@WeltonChang) on Twitter here. You can follow Welton’s cats (@percyandportia) on Instagram here.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. Links to our other superforecaster interviews are here. 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.

Too WEIRD

In this episode (recorded 9/13/17), we review our summer movie and music forecasts. We also discuss predictions we made about US catastrophe losses.

Next we talk about Harvard’s retraction of its offer to Michelle Jones of admission to its graduate history program and Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ suggestion that Jemele Hill should be fired for saying that President Trump is a “white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists.”

We go on to talk about the importance of diversity and collegiality in forecasting teams. We argue that homogenous groups tend to be biased in something like the way conducting research primarily on subjects who are“WEIRD” (western, educated, and from industrialized, rich, democratic countries) has biased academic psychology. Then we discuss recent research that suggests that decentralized, egalitarian groups are less prone to groupthink and the value of the Delphi method in forecasting.

We close with a discussion of Atief’s find-unlucky-people-and-do-the-opposite decision-making strategy and his general inability to take anything seriously.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher, 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.

Can We Trust AI Judgments?

We start this episode (recorded 8/16/17) by announcing the Hybrid Forecasting Competition (HFC). Good Judgment is collaborating with IARPA to run a tournament designed to study whether human forecasters can work with machine systems to improve geopolitical forecasting. You can sign up to volunteer as a forecaster in the competition here.

We then interrupt the podcast briefly to explain that some of the podcast audio was lost due to what we believe was an attack by a rogue artificial intelligence named “Super Bert”.

Next we discuss to what extent we can believe the forecasts of AI forecasters. Robert argues that it can be hard even to know when trust human forecasters and recommends a recent Harvard Business Review interview with former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke on “Cassandras”, whose warnings of disasters aren’t believed. Atief makes the case that our unfamiliarity with the behavior of AI should it harder to trust AI when it gives surprising results.

We go on to talk about the “value-alignment problem” in AI design, Microsoft’s racist chatbot, Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics. We then return to the question of how much we can trust AI judgments but our discussion ends suddenly when Super Bert destroys the rest of our recording.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

Overtaken By Events

We start this episode (recorded (8/22/17) by talking about the difference between what President Trump says and what he believes and whether it matters. Next we discuss US policy on Afghanistan and North Korea. Then we consider whether another top white house official would leave the administration soon—Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka was subsequently fired while were editing the podcast. We end the podcast by asking whether Trump would pardon Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for refusing to obey a judicial orders—and two days later Trump did pardon Arpaio.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.

Colin Teichholtz Interview

In this episode (recorded 8/3/17), Robert and Scott interview Colin Teichholtz, a partner and portfolio manager at global investment firm Pine River Capital. We begin by talking about how he was able to make money in college arbitraging used books and what makes someone good at identifying value in markets. We go on to talk about whether people who trade with major investment firms are suckers, what the value of financial advice is, and the advantages and disadvantages of risk parity funds.

Next we talk with Colin about what drives changes in market volatility and why political events often have little effect on markets. We go on to discuss what will happen if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and why market volatility has been low recently. Then we look at why inflation hasn’t been going up much in the US even though the unemployment rate is low and whether productivity growth in the US has stalled.

We close the podcast by asking Colin whether he thinks Mark Zuckerberg will run for president in 2020, what it’s like to work next to Trump Tower, and how he ended up introducing Michael J. Fox to Anthony Scaramucci (donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research here).

The exit music is a clip from “Word Up” by Cameo. You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher 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.