Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Experts

I have recently been reading old issues of the New Yorker that I have never read before, and I discovered this old article featuring Philip Tetlock, a prominent researcher, who contends that experts are no better at predicting outcomes than are novices.

In a more recent article on CNN, Tetlock shares his findings on the economic experts who failed to predict the great depression which is now upon us:
We found that our experts' predictions barely beat random guesses - the statistical equivalent of a dart-throwing chimp - and proved no better than predictions of reasonably well-read nonexperts. Ironically, the more famous the expert, the less accurate his or her predictions tended to be.

From now on, when I need an expert opinion, I will simply refer to Oblique Strategies; a handy deck of cards created by artists Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975.

The cards make suggestions and pose questions that users can apply when they reach a creative impasse. For example: "Are there sections? Consider transitions."

The card in my hand says "repetition is a form of change"; my new mantra.

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