How to Become a Superforecaster

I have a puzzle for you.

It took me two weeks to get this one:

A bat and ball together cost $1.10. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

$0.10 is the wrong answer.

Superforecasting, the art and science of prediction

It is from “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Philip Fetlock and Dan Gardner. And it shows exactly what is wrong with a lot of forecasting. Tip of your nose thinking. Blink thinking. As with all, there is a need to step back and think about thinking, before you think.

Are you a superforecaster?

The book tries to describe the super forecasters (and they did a lot of research on this). They describe them as:

  • Actively open minded: Beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be protected
  • Intelligent and knowledgeable, with a need for understanding: Intellectually curious, enjoy puzzles and mental challenges
  • Reflective: Introspective and self-critical
  • Numerate: Comfortable with numbers In their methods of forecasting
  • Pragmatic: Not wedded to any idea or agenda
  • Reflective: Capable of stepping back from the tip-of-your-nose perspective and considering other views
  • Dragon fly-eyed: Value diverse views and synthesize. They judge using many grades of maybe
  • Thoughtful updaters: When facts change, they change their minds
  • Good intuitive psygologists: Aware of the value of checking thinking for cognitive and emotional biases In their work ethic
  • A growth mindset: Believe it’s possible to get better
  • Grit: Determined to keep at it however long it takes
Superforecasting appears to be roughly 75% perspiration and 25% inspiration.

Better and faster

“Better and Faster: The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas” by Jeremy Gutsche describes them as hunters (as distinct from farmers)

  • Insatiable vs complacent
  • Curious vs repetitious
  • Willingness to destroy vs protective
You need to awake your inner hunter.

Jeremy also describes six patterns of opportunity:

  1. Convergence
  2. Divergence
  3. Cyclicality
  4. Redirection
  5. Reduction
  6. Acceleration
Rubbish in, rubbish out

If you ask me it is about “rubbish in, rubbish out”. To be good at forecasting, to be creative or innovative, you need to be sure to create a dashboard of sources of information.

It is about trend watching, reading lots of books, following lots of guru’s, understanding exponential and Moore’s law, understanding the creative thinking techniques, using mediation techniques and being part of the slow flow, not falling for the filter bubble trap, knowing the strategic box in which you operate and thinking things through in their extremes and applying the rule that action is reaction.

I talked about it at the student summit this year. Copy of the presentation is here.

Mental serendipity

What you want to create is, what I only can describe as, mental serendipity.



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