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. Bart Gragg | Blue Collar University says:

    Wait! Wait! Wait! People ACTUALLY voted for Meteorologists? They must be from Phoenix where you can’t go wrong with “It’s sunny and hot!”

    Anywhere else meteorologists are a study in how not to get it right.

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  2. Joseph Amauri says:

    Well… today most of us say “none of the above” because we all read books like freakonomics, the black swan (from taleb) and the upsidedown of irrationality (from dan ariely). All those books state in loud voice: specialists suck at predicting, get over it.

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  3. Bruce Myers says:

    I have been tracking the weather forecast accuracy for 4 TV stations in West Michigan since early this year. The 7th and 8th day advance temperature forecast accuracy is between 50% – 60%. http://weather.brucemyers.com/

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  4. Eric M. Jones. says:

    For a really good discussion of meteorology, Google:

    How Valid Are T.V. Weather Forecasts?
    Freakonomics
    04/21/2008

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  5. Gorbachev says:

    As my good friend, Ron, repeatedly liked to tell me, “Doveryai, no proveryai” or “Trust, but verify!”

    The thing to do is to listen to the facts presented to support the argument, then check them out and see if you come to the same conclusions. If so, then you can trust (give credence to) the predictions, because now you are of the same mind. If no facts are supplied to support the argument, then how can you understand the argument? Anybody can talk, but not everybody has science (i.e. knowledge).

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  6. DaveyNC says:

    I guess I trust meteorologists to get the weather right about 3 days out. Beyond that, nope, and that 3rd day is a stretch.

    None of the rest of them are worth a toot.

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  7. George Ronczy says:

    Some insurance professionals can be correct a reasonable amount of the time with their predictions, proving numbers are large enough and that conditions don’t change too much. However, that’s two pretty big ifs.

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  8. Definitely not the economists. I’ve been tracking their accuracy in forecasting interest rates for years, and they are simply miles away.

    See http://weathermaneconomics.blogspot.com/2011/06/asx-debut-at-1.html?m=1

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