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

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 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 17: Michael Story Interview

In episode 17 (recorded 1/26/17), we interview Good Judgment director and friend of the podcast Michael Story. Michael is a British superforecaster with an MSc. in public policy research from the London School of Economics.

We talk with Michael about his approach to forecasting and about his experience training forecasters. We go on to discuss the class politics of Brexit, the rise of nationalism in Europe, what happens if the US support for NATO weakens, and who would win in a rematch between the UK and Argentina. We close by considering whether there is realistic chance that a country uses a nuclear weapon in 2017.

The article on training forecasters Michael mentioned is

Mellers, Barbara, et al. “Psychological strategies for winning a geopolitical forecasting tournament.” Psychological Science 25.5 (2014): 1106-1115.

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 on iTunes and recommend us to your friends.

Episodes 10 and 11: Election Post-Mortems

We’re releasing two new episodes today! Our first post-election podcast was delayed by technical difficulties, so we’re posting two podcasts at once.

In Episode 10—recorded two days after the election—we conduct a post-mortem of our election forecasts (Robert also wrote about how wrong his forecast was here). Scott describes election night at the US Embassy’s party at a Romanian Hard Rock Café. We start to look at what effect Trump’s election is likely to have on foreign and domestic politics. We also consider whether Obama will preemptively pardon Hillary Clinton.

In Episode 11—recorded the following week—we talk about the Oxford English Dictionary’s selection of “post-truth” as its “word of the year” and how we can forecast post-truth politics. We try to answer a listener question about how we know whether our forecasts were good or bad. We speculate about the possibility of electoral college reform, a national Election Day, faithless electors, and a Trump impeachment. We close the episode by talking about Trump’s foreign policy and whether it’s a good idea to name your child “Kermit”.

As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, 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 9: Short, Pre-Election Survival Guide

In this episode, we give our listeners some advice for how to survive the last few days before the election. We discuss the most recent polls, speculate about whether there will be any more surprises over the weekend, and generally try to put the last-minute horse-race coverage of the election in context.

We also talk about the erosion of democratic norms in US politics and try to guess how long it will take for either candidate to concede the election. Atief argues we should take a Mean Girls approach to restoring norms and Scott goes into the history of Transylvanian Saxon divorce customs.

As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, 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 8: US Election Best Bets

This episode begins by following up our interview with Global Catastrophic Risk Institute Executive Director Seth Baum with a discussion the Fermi Paradox—why don’t we see evidence of other intelligent life in the galaxy given the apparently enormous number of places in the galaxy where life could have evolved? We briefly consider Robin Hanson’s argument that there is a “great filter” that keeps most places where life could evolve from producing stable advanced civilizations.

Next we update our estimates of each candidate’s chance of winning the US election, talk about the erosion of norms in US politics, and give our US election “best bets” on public political betting sites. We close the podcast with a discussion of whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump would win if they were to fight behind a gym.

As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, 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.

October 14, 2016 Podcast

In our latest episode, Robert and Scott argue that at this point Donald Trump has almost no chance of winning the election. Atief makes the case that recent news has not hurt Trump that much among his core supporters and that he could still win if Hillary Clinton’s supporters don’t get out to the polls. We play “too-high-too-low-or-about-right” with a bunch of PredictIt politics questions and also talk about driverless cars, longevity escape velocity, and the possibility of a cashless economy. We end the podcast about by thinking about what might happen after the US election.

As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, 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.

September 21, 2016 Podcast

In this episode—available on iTunes and on Blubbry—we talk about the Dunning-Kruger effect, the difference between intelligence and rationality, and how much our forecasts rely on our “gut instincts”. Scott recounts the cautionary tale of McArthur Wheeler. We respond to our first listener e-mail and discuss a recent Upshot article on the difficulty of interpreting raw polling data. Atief recalls Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations?” and worries that partisan divisions could lead to black swan conflict in the US. Sir Thomas More also makes a special appearance. As always, if you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, use the contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com).

The Third NonProphets Podcast Is Up

The latest episode of the NonProphets Podcast is available on iTunes and on Blubbry. In this episode we increase our estimates of Donald Trump’s chance of winning but disagree with Dilbert creator Scott Adams’ view that Hillary Clinton’s public illness has made her “unelectable”. We talk about whether we are likely to get evidence of life after death or life on other planets any time soon. We consider a possible black swan on the Korean peninsula. Atief also tries to stop swearing. If you have questions, ideas for future episodes, or would like to suggest a possible black swan event, use the contact page or e-mail us at (nonprophets [at] nonprophetspod.com).