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Posts Tagged ‘predict’

The Downside of Research: How Small Uncertainties Can Lead to Big Differences

Contrary to popular perception, most research yields very few conclusions with 100 percent certainty. That’s why you’ll often hear economists state their conclusions with “95 percent certainty.” It means they’re pretty sure, but there’s still a small margin for error. The science of climate change is no different, and, according to a Washington Post blog post, scientists are currently struggling with how to explain that uncertainty to the public. “What do you do when there’s a small but real chance that global warming could lead to a catastrophe?” asks Brad Plumer. “How do you talk about that in a way that’s useful to policymakers?”

FREAK-est Links

This week, why SpongeBob hurts kids’ willpower, a restaurant in Saudi Arabia fines you for unfinished plates, robots inventing their own language, Indonesia’s floating trash problem, jet packs are finally for real, and lie detectors that actually work.

Sign Up for a Prediction Tournament

You may remember Phil Tetlock from our Freakonomics Radio hour-long episode “The Folly of Prediction.” He’s a psychologist at Penn and author of the deservedly well-regarded book Expert Political Judgment. Tetlock and some colleagues have embarked on an ambitious new study of prediction — and even better, they’re looking for volunteers. Specifically, they’re looking for people “who have a serious interest in and knowledge about world affairs, politics, and global economic matters and are interested in testing their own forecasting and reasoning skills.”
Doesn’t that sound like you? You need to be 18 or older, with a college degree. The project even pays a small honorarium. The start date has been pushed back to September, so you better act fast if you want in.
Here’s more information from Tetlock and colleagues:

Surprise, Surprise: The Future Remains Hard to Predict

“There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts.”
In what realm do you think this “huge discrepancy” exists? The financial markets? Politics? Pharmaceutical research?
Given how bad humans are at predicting the future, this discrepancy could exist just about anywhere. But the above quote, from the University of Alabama-Huntsville climate scientist Roy Spencer, is talking about computer models that predict global warming:

Are We Getting Better at Predicting Tornadoes?

Last week, a severe outbreak of tornadoes tore across much of the southeast U.S., killing at least 43 people. Despite the destruction, meteorologists are working on a handful of advancements that should greatly improve our ability to predict tornadoes.