Freakonomics Poll: When It Comes to Predictions, Whom Do You Trust?

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “The Folly of Prediction,” is built around the premise that humans love to predict the future, but are generally terrible at it. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript here.)

There are a host of professions built around predicting some future outcome: from predicting the score of a sports match, to forecasting the weather for the weekend, to being able to tell what the stock market is going to do tomorrow. But is anyone actually good at it?

From your experience, which experts do you trust for predictions?

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  1. bsod says:

    there was no check box for myself

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  2. Chris says:

    Where is the “non of the above” option?

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  3. Rami says:


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  4. caleb b says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Disliked! Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12
  5. Adam says:

    Does anyone find it comical that the most chosen answer is a profession that predicts natural events? All other options are man made topics/events in one way or another…

    I chose None of the Above. Since the question is “Who do you trust?” on predictions, I don’t actually trust any of them. I’ve been setup for disappointment by all, and no one gets it right every time. I accept that and instead use forecasts as a guide rather than fact. Experts in various fields are often great to use as a guide on what not to do (not always, but in some cases, yes). Stock market predictions are the perfect example of this. Recently, if you do the exact opposite of what the majority says about the market, you’ll make quick money. Anyone recall economists claiming 15, 20 even close to 30% unemployment numbers back in late 2008/2009? Or the Dow going to zero? I know these are extremes, but in times of crisis, there are people who buy-in to these extremes.

    Or what about sports experts touting teams going to the World Series or Super Bowl, in the first week of the season? I know we all do it, but how many of us get it right? I think a great study for Levitt would be the March Madness Basketball predictions. With the number of games played and the incredibly large number of people who participate, might this be useful in a study on the folly of sports predictions? I know controls would need to be setup, but the results would be very interesting.

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  6. Caleb b says:

    Better than Sports Experts? Sports Bookies!

    As Mary pointed in the Folly of Prediction podcast post, the people who are best at predictions are those with skin in the game.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  7. Vince Skolny says:

    I rather suspect the individuals that trust their meteorologists live in the desert.

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  8. Mike Stewart says:

    Too bad Freakonomics wasn’t on there!

    Then I would have the choice NOT to select Freakonomics as a reliable predictor of the future!

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