Key Points

  • Prediction is a talent and a skill that can be developed. Anyone with enough dedication, interest and domain expertise can improve their skill and accuracy 
  • Our complex world means that small events can lead to large unforeseen consequences making regular forecasting rather limited. This, however, does not mean that forecasting should be scrapped. Just because not everything is predictable, doesn’t mean everything is unpredictable.
  • Superfocasting is derived from curiosity, the desire to learn, the ability to gather information, and the willingness to change and update our beliefs.
  • Superforecasters are less ideologically (or professionally) biased. They seek data from a wide range of sources to examine future trends. They are open-minded and have less fear of making mistakes. 
  • Superforecasters embrace probabilistic thinking and understand how statistical probability works.
  • As forecasters, we want to measure the accuracy of our forecasts in order to improve our forecasting skills. We also want to adjust your forecast as new information comes to light.
  • Forecasters should avoid using vague language like “might”, “could” and “likely” because different people attach different meanings to these words, it’s far better to use numbers, particularly percentages. 
  • Seemingly impossible forecast problems can be tackled by breaking them down into smaller bite-size units to analyze
  • Every situation is unique so don’t judge a case too quickly. Approach it from the outside by finding the base rate first.
  • It’s always wise to plan for adaptability and resilience.
  • Many forecasters tend to give advice that is too certain due to the fact that consumers have an inherent distaste for uncertainty
  • Declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.
  • In forecasting, often, a small edge can make a big difference.
  • The more that is unknown, the greater the opportunity.
  • Consensus is not always good; Disagreement not always bad. If you do happen to agree, don’t take that agreement—in itself—as proof that you are right. Never stop doubting.
  • Beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded.
  • We as humans have the ability to take a series of past events and turn them into linear narrative that makes the outcome seem all but inevitable.
  • Using multiple lenses to view a subject can provide a more detailed picture and yield greater understanding and better forecasting.
  • One of the keys for better forecasting is to embrace diverse thoughts, expose assumptions, catch mistakes, and correct biases.
  • People who work in teams had forecasts that were more accurate than forecasts made by individuals. However, it's key to include critical discussions and present an alternative view. 
  • The goal of forecasting is not to see what’s coming. It’s to advance the interests of the forecaster and the forecaster’s community.
  • Anchoring bias: “When we make estimates, we tend to start with some number and adjust. The number we start with is called the anchor. It is important because we typically underadjust, which means a bad anchor can easily produce a bad estimate.”

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The above is inspired from the bestselling book Superforecasting’ by Philip Tetlock

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