The Fisher Protocol

In this episode (recorded 6/8/17)—produced while Robert was on vacation—Atief and Scott ask whether probability broke in 2016. They start by talking about former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Atief argues that Comey’s testimony is pivotal in the sense that how politicians react to it will determine how we should forecast future events.

Atief and Scott discuss “the Fisher Protocol”, Harvard Law professor Roger Fisher’s suggestion that the nuclear launch codes should be implanted next to the heart of a volunteer so that the president would have to kill the volunteer in order to use nuclear weapons. Atief and Scott also talk about political violence and partisanship in light of the May 26 attack on a commuter train in Portland and the June 3 London Bridge attack; the state of Kansas’ experiment in conservative economics; the snap election in the UK; and whether President Trump will discover his pardon power this year.

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.

Special Counsel

In this episode (recorded 5/17/17), we discuss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in last year’s US election. We try to forecast whether recent revelations will ultimately lead to President Trump’s impeachment or resignation. Would a Congress of Marcus Aureliuses impeach Trump? Is there any abuse of office that would convince Republicans to vote for impeachment? Is Robert Mueller America’s Batman?

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.

The Brief Wondrous Tenure of Jim Comey

In this episode (recorded 5/10/17)—recorded the day after it happened—we look at the implications of President Trump’s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey.

We talk about whether we think Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will appoint Special Counsel to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia (which he did this week), what President Trump might do with the pardon power, whether we should expect widespread voter suppression in 2018, what motivates the Republican Party, who the next FBI Director will be, whether President could be removed from office, and how President Trump is like the Mule from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series.

We end the podcast with an anecdote about and a plug for Nigel Shakespear’s book Times New Romanian.

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.

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

Rare Birds

We start this episode (recorded 4/26/17) by talking about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership and giving our analysis of the first round of the French election. We go on to speculate about what President Trump might do to to make his first 100 days in office look more impressive—would he retaliate against Venezuela for seizing a General Motors’ factory? or withdraw from NAFTA? or simply send someone to Mars? We end the episode by wondering whether Trump’s wall is real or figurative, before briefly considering the March for Science and Romanian pop music.

The opening audio clip is from this video of comedian Stephen Fry narrating as zoologist Mark Carwadine is shagged by a rare parrot. 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.

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 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.