Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ignorance Is Strength

Something to consider:
The accuracy of an expert’s predictions actually has an inverse relationship to his or her self-confidence, renown, and, beyond a certain point, depth of knowledge. People who follow current events by reading the papers and news magazines regularly can guess what is likely to happen about as accurately as the specialists whom the papers quote
On the first scale, the experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned an equal probability to all three outcomes—if they had given each possible future a thirty-three-per-cent chance of occurring. Human beings who spend their lives studying the state of the world, in other words, are poorer forecasters than dart-throwing monkeys, who would have distributed their picks evenly over the three choices.
Maybe this says something about the increased specialisation of knowledge, as academics and pundits become ever more informed about the minutiae of their field they lose focus on the broader picture. Also perhaps some fields of 'expertise' are really job creation scams, the article mentions that when asked to predict grades of college students using a simple formula of test scores and high school grades is more accurate than the choices made by 'experts' based on assessments of personality and background, however using test scores and grades doesn't require much in the way of an admissions staff.

Science enables us to predict many things with great certainty but in most other fields the appearance of science is given to areas of study that cannot easily be subjected to scientific rigour, where things cannot be repeated multiple times and can't really be falsified.

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