A few months ago I ran a contest here at Freakonomics (results here) to predict the outcome of a randomized trial on charitable giving.
Although we are long way from realization (and it may be a pipe dream), the idea is simple: imagine a market on results from research studies. This could help not just hold people accountable for their ex-ante stated views, but also serve as a guiding tool for investors, practitioners, policymakers and donors, to help make decisions and allocate resources using the collective wisdom of markets. Of course this requires liquidity, and a certain faith in markets. Anyhow, until that dream comes true, we are doing this the simple way: running contests!
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, or read the transcript here.) But predictions about world politics and the economy are hard -- there are so many moving parts.
In the podcast, you'll hear from Freakonomics researcher Hayes Davenport, who ran the numbers for us on how accurate expert NFL pickings have been for the last 3 years. He put together a guest post for us on football predictions.
Picking the NFL Playoffs: How the Experts Fumble the Snap
As careers in journalism go, making preseason NFL predictions is about as safe as they come these days. The picks you make in August can't be reviewed for four months, and by that time almost nobody remembers or cares what any individual picker predicted. So when Stephen asked me to look at the success rate of NFL experts in predicting division winners at the beginning of the season, I was excited to look back at the last few years of picks and help offer this industry one of its first brushes with accountability.
In Freakonomics we poke fun at “experts” — folks who go around speaking with great authority about topics they don’t actually know that much about. I can be criticized for a lot of things since Freakonomics came out, but one thing that I have been pretty good at is not masquerading as an expert on […]
Our new “Freakonomics” column in the New York Times Magazine asks a fundamental — but very hard – question: When someone is very good at a given thing, what is it that actually makes him good? To find the answer to this question, we turned to Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State […]