Straight Outta Chumptown

In this episode (recorded 4/4/18), we talk about “the backfire effect”—the fact that people sometimes seem to hold ideas even more firmly after being confronted with evidence they are wrong.

We discuss Andrew Gelman’s skepticism of a New England Journal of Medicine report—which we discussed in the previous podcast—finding that firearm injuries in the US drop 20% while NRA members are attending national meetings; how skeptical we should be of research that confirms our preconceptions; “The Debunking Handbook” techniques for changing people’s minds; research into how much contrary information it takes to change people’s mind; whether culture or economics determines elections; how we avoid bias in forecasting and decision-making; and how we can stay out of Chumptown,

The four episodes of the You Are Not So Smart podcast on the “backfire effect” are here, here, 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.

Calculations

In this episode (recorded 3/23/18), we talk about PredictIt questions we’ve lost money on; what things that come out of the Trump administration are worth paying attention to; the nerve agent assassination attempt in England; the Russian concept of vranyo; what public figures Americans trust; how and whether we can change other people’s minds; what the consequences of the recent crash of a self-driving Uber car will be; and the eternal conflict between K.I.T.T. and K.A.R.R.

You can find NonProphets on BlubrryiTunesStitcher and Google Play. The intro music for this episode is a clip from “Calculate” by Del the Funky Homosapien. 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.

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.

Toward the Year 2068

In this episode (recorded 2/23/18), we discuss a 1968 collection of essays speculating what the distant future of 2018 would be like called Toward the Year 2018. We start by talking about whether its really possible to predict the future fifty years out; the difficulty of forecasting changing norms and tastes; what the book got right and what it got wrong; how much our lives have actually changed since 1968; how technology is making it harder to know what’s real and what’s fake; how technology could make the problems of inequality worse; how technology is changing our ideas of privacy; what science fiction scenario is closest to what life will be like in 50 years; whether there will be more than 100,000 people in space in 50 years; the problem of technological unemployment; what country we would want to be born into in 50 years; and what people 50 years from now will judge us for doing.

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.

Kathryn Cochran Interview

In this episode (recorded 1/23/18), we interview Good Judgment Chief Scientist Kathryn McNabb Cochran about forecasting question design. Dr. Cochran leads Good Judgment’s question development team and helped design Good Judgment’s new Future of Europe Index.

We talked with Dr. Cochran how forecasting can make organizations more agile; about how to design clear, meaningful forecasting questions; about how forecasting makes us smarter consumers of news; about the value of forecasting question clusters; about how we could improve the forecasting ability of US intelligence; and about the Nicaragua Canal and little green men.

You can read Dr. Cochran and Cdr. Tozzi’s Center for a New American Security essay, “Getting It Righter, Faster,” here. The announcement for Good Judgment’s Future of Europe Index 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.

Definitely Cherry Tomato

As we begin this episode (recorded 12/1/17), you can hear sirens in the background as Hawaii conducts the first test of its new new nuclear attack warning system in the background. We go on to discuss—once Robert finishes ducking and covering—the prospects for the Republican tax bill.

Next we forecast Pantone’s 2018 Color of Year. Last year Scott correctly guessed it would be Greenery. This year we all agree that the color of the year would either be Cherry Tomato or Meadowlark. In fact, Pantone announced after we recorded that the color of the year will be Ultra Violet, which—apparently—”communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future”.

We end the podcast by forecasting how well Star Wars: The Last Jedi will do on Rotten Tomatoes and at the box office. Then we guess the name of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s forthcoming baby (Alice is the favorite on Paddy Power at 8/1).

We inverted the ratio of girls to boys born at the end of the podcast and regret the error. 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.

Sichere Prognosen (Bruno Jahn Interview)

In this episode (recorded 11/1/17), we interview superforecaster Bruno Jahn. Bruno is a forecasting consultant with an M.A. in Islamic/Middle Eastern Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin.

We begin by talking about how Bruno got involved with Good Judgment and how he became a superforecaster. Then we go through a number of Good Judgment Project forecasting questions we did poorly on and discuss whether our forecasts were really inaccurate or whether we were just unlucky. We go on to consider whether expertise can sometimes be an obstacle to forecasting.

Next Bruno tells us about his forthcoming book on forecasting, Sichere Prognosen in unsicheren Zeiten (“Certain Forecasts in Uncertain Times”), which comes out in April 2018. Bruno says that modern forecasters play a similar social to Roman augurs and talks about the value of “common-sense Bayesianism”. He also argues that serious forecasting can serve as an antidote to fake news. We close the podcast by talking about what supeforecasters are like. whether we will see a “Jamaica coalition” in Germany, and why center-left parties seem to be collapsing in Europe.

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.