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. Joshua Northey says:

    Meteorologists are by far the best out of those. I bike 12 miles a day for a commute and so need to pay close attention to the forecast, and it is pretty much always spot on.

    The others are pretty much just talking out of their *** most of the time. Particularly the bottom three. Economists at least have a field of expertise and small areas they can speak sensibly about despite their field’s infancy.

    Most sports and stock analysts are so poor I will mute them when they are on. Political pundits might as well be throwing darts 95% of the time. Anything they can tell me with any degree of certainty I already knew. I love watching political pundits breathlessly report on political goings on that are completely irrelevant. For instance it was clear Obama had won the nomination (barring some unexpected event) long before pundits were willing to even broach the subject. Too much money to be made pretending it was an issue in need of further prediction/punditry for another several months.

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  2. Mike B says:

    Can you redo the poll with a category for Nate Silver? He’s actually done a pretty good job at all of the above.

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  3. cannon says:

    Whom do you trust?

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  4. Scott from Ohio says:

    The options are not mutually exclusive. We should either be able to choose more than one, or the question should be reworded as “who do you trust most?” rather than simply “who do you trust?”

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  5. Eric M. Jones. says:

    I have flown small aircraft for years. I can tell you that one’s LIFE depends on meteorologists. Of your choices, meteorology is the only science. As such, not only can they tell you their weather prediction, but they even publish their scores. And they will tell you what percentages you should assign to their prognostications. This is all the difference.

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  6. Joshua Connelly says:

    Ron Paul and Peter Schiff, they predicted the housing market bubble and pop years before Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac were household names.

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  7. Casey says:

    I’m guessing that meteorologists are ranked the highest as they have the shortest time horizon in their predictions. There may also be some natural restraints in the prediction (say, no snow in July) that aren’t present in other categories (stocks can go to zero).

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  8. Roger says:

    I am more inclined to trust one who is less inclined to make predictions.

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