See Text Version of Website

HOME | PODCAST | INTRODUCTION | LINKS | RSS FEEDS | EMAIL ME


Articles Associated with Keyword: predictions

Analysis > Friday, 23 July 2010 18:36:31 EST

Folly In Future Forecasting

Keywords: statistics, predictions, uncertainty, randomness, book

I've talked before about how how people can be overly confident in their ability to understand the past and predict the future.  A good illustration of this is a book called "The Next 100 Years" by George Friedman. 

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman

As I see it, Friedman falls into the mental trap of looking at history and seeing it's progression as inevitable.  With the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to see how historical events were really uncertain and chaotic, and how the outcome really could have been different than the one that history records.

From this misunderstanding he has looked through history for patterns, and whether they actually exist or not, has found them.  From these supposed patterns he's projected out into the future to try and understand the forces that will shape the next century.

This seems to me like a good case study to highlight the ways that smart people can fool themselves and build a case that sounds compelling, but when you examine it closely you see that it rests on very shaky ground.

I read this book last year and am working off notes from an online discussion I had at the time.  I want to make clear that even though I criticize the book, I did enjoy reading it.  Especially the narrative of the coming war in the 2050's.  He admits that the details of the war are more speculative than the other areas, though to me the rest of the book is almost as speculative.  But in spite of being better suited to science fiction than anything else, it's a fantastic story.

But let's look at the arguments that Mr. Friedman puts forth as the solid basis for his claims:
Full Story

Analysis > Tuesday, 12 January 2010 10:15:11 EST

On Predicting The Future

Keywords: statistics, predictions, religion, uncertainty, randomness

I often see predictions in the media attempting to predict the future.  Usually, these predictions are given out by the experts in a particular field, and we're lead to believe that they've actually got some sort of valuable insight into what the future holds.

What makes me crazy is that people seem to believe that these predictions have any kind of validity to them.  Some of them may be reliable, such as if the prediction is short term, or if it's based on unambiguous data whose properties are not generally subjected to random changes.

But this isn't the case for most predictions.  Randomness and uncertainty rule our lives, and to think that we can predict the long term future based on short term trends is to ignore this basic fact.  It's tempting to think that we can accurately predict the far future  based on what we observe happening today.  Unfortunately, predicting the future remains a very uncertain art.
Full Story




Search


Categories:
Latest Comments:
On 3/25/2017
at 1:36am
Stephan wrote:

Could you ask him to call me? <a href" http://costaazzurra.org/zofranivpushtoofast/auditorium ">is zofran safe in pregnancy 2014</a> Ceuta and Melilla...
(more)

On 3/24/2017
at 1:12pm
Jimmy wrote:

Are you a student? <a href" http://truecheapbuy.org/somaovernightq/alphabet ">two restaurant soma yuki soma</a> What else did the NFL think happened...
(more)

On 3/24/2017
at 9:28am
Grant wrote:

I really like swimming <a href" http://globonline.org/propeciasaleonline/overcoat ">where to buy generic propecia online</a> Arlene Farkas had defaulted on more...
(more)

On 3/23/2017
at 8:25pm
Thanh wrote:

A few months <a href" http://catarinazimbarra.com/sweetvaliumhighmp3 ">valium root</a> But executives at most media organisations have chosen not to show...
(more)

On 3/23/2017
at 6:05am
Elliott wrote:

I support Manchester United <a href" http://catarinazimbarra.com/purchaseimipramine ">tofranil generalized anxiety disorder</a> While the southnorth water transfer project will partially...
(more)


Blog Entries: