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Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? Paperback – August 20, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Secondly, Tetlock demonstrates that experts who know something about a number of related topics (foxes) predict better than experts who know a great deal about one thing (hedgehogs). Generalist knowledge adds to accuracy.
Tetlock's survey of this research is clear, crisp, and compelling. His work has direct application to world affairs. For example he is presenting his findings to a conference of Intelligence Community leaders next week (Jan 2007) at the invitation of the Director of National Intelligence.
"Expert Political Judgment" is recommended to anyone who depends on political experts, which is pretty much all of us. Tetlock helps the non-experts to know more about what the experts know, how they know it, and how much good it does them in making predictions.
His most important finding about what distinguishes the worst from the not-so-bad is that those on the hedgehog end of Isaiah Berlin's spectrum (who derive predictions from a single grand vision) are wrong more often than those near the fox end (who use many different ideas). He convinced me that that finding is approximately right, but leaves me with questions.
Does the correlation persist at the fox end of the spectrum, or do the most fox-like subjects show some diminished accuracy?
How do we reconcile his evidence that humans with more complex thinking do better than simplistic humans, but simple autoregressive models beat all humans? That seems to suggest there's something imperfect in using the hedgehog-fox spectrum. Maybe a better spectrum would use evidence on how much data influences their worldviews?
Another interesting finding is that optimists tend to be more accurate than pessimists. I'd like to know how broad a set of domains this applies to. It certainly doesn't apply to predicting software shipment dates. Does it apply mainly to domains where experts depend on media attention?
To what extent can different ways of selecting experts change the results? Tetlock probably chose subjects that resemble those who most people regard as experts, but there must be ways of selecting experts which produce better forecasts. It seems unlikely they can match <a href="[...]">prediction markets</a>, but there are situations where we probably can't avoid relying on experts.Read more ›
I tend to like this book in part because it reaffirms my prior beliefs. And it does so in a very careful way. Tetlock bends over backwards to test his own conclusions. A particularly insightful conclusion is that those who are most likely to get publicity for their predictions are also those who are least likely to be right.
Two mild criticisms. First, the book veers into the highly technical at times and is not really for the lay reader. It was perhaps not intended to be for an audience beyond academia but some of the attention it has gotten may have attracted a broader audience that may have to gloss over wide sections of the book. Second, in his conclusions, Tetlock attempts to broaden his already far-reaching argument to deal with conflicts between relativists and objectivists. This felt tacked on and too cursory to contribute in this area.
But as far as his treatment of experts goes, I wish that everyone could read this and treat them with a more cynical eye.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read Tetlock’s works in reverse chronological order. I first read Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, and read this book afterwards. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sympa
The book opens with a full throated defense of the American invasion of Iraq and how doves who pine for a counterfactual reality where Saddam is still in power discount the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by d
This books information is fascinating and challenging to read and absorb.Published 8 months ago by nick s
Hard to handle the statistical sections but the basic message is fascinating. Go Foxes.Published 17 months ago by harrison young
Brilliant research written up in a clear fashion. Important work that is quoted widely. Important implications for society and our politicsPublished 24 months ago by David McKay
We all think about the world and everything else in terms of our mental models. This has its own limitations, but used properly we will still be able to understand and predict the... Read morePublished on February 24, 2014 by Vinayagamoorthy
This book is excellent at demonstrating that *expertise* should be the goal of education, and not "critical thinking". Read morePublished on October 8, 2013 by W Stephens