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.

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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com. And if you enjoy this podcast, please rate us on iTunes and recommend us to your friends.

Episode 7: Seth Baum on the Risk of Global Catastrophe

In this episode we interview Dr. Seth Baum, the executive director and co-f0under of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute about how to forecast the possibility of catastrophes that could threaten human civilization. We also talk briefly about the US election, discuss how to forecast a few technological questions, and consider whether Atief is likely to die on Mars. We end by previewing next week’s podcast, in which we will give our “best bets” on US election questions taken from political betting sites and submitted by listeners.

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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.com). And if you enjoy this podcast, please rate us on iTunes and recommend us to your friends.

September 28, 2016 Podcast

In this episode, we update our US presidential election forecasts in the aftermath of the first debate. We disagree on how much the debate is likely to matter, but agree that Trump’s chances of winning the election are getting smaller. Then we talk about some interesting and surprising US politics forecasts on the PredictIt market and agree that it’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton will face a federal criminal charge in 2016. Finally, we look at how recent developments could affect the possibility of black swan instability in Saudi Arabia that we considered in an earlier podcast.

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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.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 essay “The 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 (nonprophetspod [at] gmail.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).