Episode #104

The Folly of Prediction

Airs Friday, June 24 and Thursday, June 30 at 3PM on 93.9 FM and 8PM on AM 820

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Friday, June 24, 2011

It's impossible to predict the future, but humans can't help themselves.  From the economy to the presidency to the Super Bowl, educated and intelligent people promise insight and repeatedly fail by wide margins.  These mistakes and misses go unpunished, both publicly and in our brain, which has become trained to ignore the record of those who make them.  In this hour of Freakonomics Radio, we’ll dream of the day when bad predictors pay – when the accuracy rate of pundits appear next to their faces on TV,  when the weatherman who botches the 5-day forecast by 20 degrees has to make his next appearance soaking wet.  We’ll also look at the deep roots of divining what tomorrow brings, from the invention of religion to new understandings of how we make decisions about the future.

Comments [4]

HH from a state of mind

I agree that it's impossible for us to determine what God has planned, but, we can speculate via studious interpretation of the multitude of information presented in His works. Why else do the writings differ so greatly? It takes an immense amount of work to come to grips with what has been purposely hidden in plain sight. We as a species must come to logical conclusions without resorting to petty wishful thinking. The answers are there, but they don't come easily. Predictions? Even if anyone were to predict an event having significant impact on human (and otherwise) existence, what would be the point if it proved to be moot? The most perplexing of all I have read in the Bible(s) is certainly the Book of Ecclesiastes; read it , read it again, and you will most likely still be perplexed. But also consider this: each book in itself was never meant to be a " know-all, tell all". I've spoken my two cents worth.

Jan. 02 2012 11:42 AM
Sara from Vancouver BC

The "fail fast" tip is useful. Dr. Norm Amundsen is a career counsellor in Vancouver, BC. He sees any endeavour in life as an S-curve (a display of cumulative costs plotted over time). He encourages us to "jump" off the S-curve when things are still good, rather than wait for the inevitable deceleration. Thanks for a fascinating and thought-provoking show.

Jul. 01 2011 03:51 PM

Great program but where is the list of guests and sources? Nothing on that?

Jun. 25 2011 03:08 AM
Steve Highcock from Pennington NJ

I hope the program will cover Professor Philip Tetlock's work in this area. He conducted a study over 20 years on the accuracy of a group of around 300 experts' predictions and found they were barely better than chance - no better than the rest of us non-experts. The New Yorker, December 5, 2005, has a good article on Tetlock's work

Jun. 23 2011 10:28 AM

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