DO EXPERTS KNOW ANYTHING? There are three major parts to THE BLACK SWAN; Part 2 is entitled “We Just Can’t Predict.” Taleb is not just saying that economists can’t predict. In Part 2 Taleb discusses the work of Philip Tetlock, who asked some three hundred specialists in various fields, including politics, economics, and military, (about 25% were economists) to make predictions for about five years in the future. They did not do well. PhD’s did not do better than those with undergraduate degrees. Those with bigger reputations did worse than others. Here is an interview with Tetlock. The interviewer says that Tetlock collected some 82,000 forecasts and found that the predictions barely beat out a random forecast generator. In the interview, Tetlock cites what he says is a cliche: “Never assign a date and a number to the same prediction.”

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