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Math Science Games Politics

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Uses Games To See the Future 134

Posted by timothy
from the shall-we-play-a-game dept.
parallel_prankster writes "Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a professor of politics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. In his new book, The Predictioneer (The Predictioneer's Game in the US), he describes a computer model based on game theory which he — and others — claim can predict the future with remarkable accuracy. The website also has a game page where he provides an online version of the game and information on how to play." The (semi-paywalled; may need to register) New Scientist has a story on de Mesquita, too; a snippet: "Over the past 30 years, Bueno de Mesquita has made thousands of predictions about hundreds of issues from geopolitics to personal problems. Overall, he claims, his hit rate is about 90 per cent."
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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Uses Games To See the Future

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ..................what an amazing individual!

  • by pizza_milkshake (580452) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:54AM (#31533320)
    But then, he knew I'd say this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From TFA:

      How is such accuracy possible? What Bueno de Mesquita is not doing is predicting random events such as lottery draws. Nor does he claim to be able to forecast the movement of stock markets, the outcome of general elections or the onset of financial crises - events where millions of people have a small influence, but none is able to move the market on their own.

      Rather, he confines himself to "strategic situations" where relatively small numbers of people are haggling over a contentious decision. "I can predict events and decisions that involve negotiation or coercion, cooperation or bullying," he says. That includes domestic politics, foreign policy, conflicts, business decisions and social interactions.

      Now, that's not to say that he couldn't make money using the predictions, but maybe he's actually more interested in the science/mathematics side of it than the business potential?

      • by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:33AM (#31533494) Journal

        So I guess he doesn't need funding then? Oh and doesn't have any good causes he feels could benefit from donated earnings?

        As for not predicting the movement of stock markets, if you can predict business decisions you can predict selected market movements. Will XYZ get the contract? Their stock will go up. Will Mr. suchandsuch decide to buy company z? You can bet company Z stock is going to rise. When you make or lose money based on your predictions every prediction is documented - if you're up you're right and if not you're wrong.

        The value of a "90 pct hit rate" can only be reasonably compared to a combination of other forecasting methods and random chance. Documentation of every prediction, wrong and right is essential.

        • by zmollusc (763634) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:41AM (#31533524)

          You used 'lose' instead of 'loose' when the correct word is 'lose'. Is the interweb broken? Next we will see someone in a car analogy slowing the vehicle by applying the 'brakes'.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Not if they specify Toyota.
        • I read part of his book since his book uses what one would call behavioral economics. A very interesting field. What I don't like about him is that he manipulates (read the book). And as such believes that manipulation is everything. I stopped reading half way because I hated his style. That is his flaw since not everybody can be manipulated. People can act irrationally. That he does not account for in his model, and is what I would think is a major flaw. It is sort of like saying, "Greece will be bailed out, Greece will be bailed out" Why? Because that the logical choice and would be according to this guy who does predictions.

          What they all forget is Germany... Germany is now saying, "hey Greece head over to the IMF" It is at that point the financial community says, "ooops..." But if you are investing money it is a big f****g oops! And that big f****g oops is what causes financial companies to loose money...

          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            What I don't like about him is that he manipulates (read the book).

            Nice try, prof. de Mesquita, but we know about sarcasm.

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "behavioral economics. A very interesting field."

            Sounds like BS. The idea that you could apply a mathematical formula to something as unpredictable as human behavior, even in group situations, is somewhat absurd if given a properly diverse set of people.

            • "behavioral economics. A very interesting field."

              Sounds like BS. The idea that you could apply a mathematical formula to something as unpredictable as human behavior, even in group situations, is somewhat absurd if given a properly diverse set of people.

              Actually it's not - it looks at human behavior related to decision making as as part of the way to explain economic decisions; and seeks to understand apparent irrationality in the market, for example. As such, it is somewhat at odds with efficient market theory which makes Chicago's mens tennis doubles team of Fama / Thaler an interesting combination.

              Not surprisingly, human behavior is often not that unpredictable as people may think, especially in larger groups. There's a large body of research on decis

            • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

              by nospam007 (722110) *

              "The idea that you could apply a mathematical formula to something as unpredictable as human behavior, even in group situations, is somewhat absurd"

              Old news, it's Psychohistory,

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory_(fictional) [wikipedia.org]

            • by Kelbear (870538)

              Human behavior isn't truly random, it can be predicted, though not with a high degree of individual precision.

              Offer to give 500 dollars to each person with no strings attached, I think everyone here can make a pretty darned good prediction of whether or not a person would take it. It may not be a 100% accurate prediction, but the outcomes certainly aren't random. This point is just to establish that human behavior forms trends that can be predicted.

              After you conclude that there are trends in human behavior,

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by JesseMcDonald (536341)

                Human behavior isn't random, but it is chaotic in the context of competition. One can predict the result easily enough when there are no conflicting self-interests, as in your example, but that predictability disappears as soon as you try to influence the outcome in a way one or more of the individuals involved perceives as not being in their favor.

                If all you want to do is model non-coerced and purely cooperative human behavior then that won't be an issue, but most behavioral economists find themselves empl

                • by Khyber (864651)

                  All of this relating to my point of a 'diverse group sample'

                  Thank you for clarifying this a bit better than I could.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dargaud (518470)
            Yeah, it's like the turkey predicting that tomorrow it will go to sleep well fed. It will be wrong only once after all. Just before thankgiving. Not a bad score, right ?
          • If his theories are based on manipulation, manipulation based theories should have NOT predicted the market bubble, as everyone was being manipulated into being rich. Further manipulation should have predicted an increasing, never-ending bubble. Sounds like he and the banks use the same theories; whoops, model wrong.

        • by orichter (60340)

          It doesn't necessarily follow that if he can be right 90% of the time, he can make money. It's possible that what he says is true, but not particularly useful. Let me give you an example. I play limit poker, and while I'm not good enough to make a living at it, I am good enough to consistently make around $5-$15 per hour. The key is folding most of your hands. Typically, I make money on 1 hand in 25, meaning if I fold every hand, I will be right 96% of the time and still be unable to make money. The k

      • by fractoid (1076465)

        Now, that's not to say that he couldn't make money using the predictions, but maybe he's actually more interested in the science/mathematics side of it than the business potential?

        I've heard that sort of excuse a lot, but I don't buy it. (heh.) You can buy pretty much anything with money. Saying you're not interested in money is saying that you're not interested in anything you can buy with money. The only person who genuinely have no interest in anything you can buy with money are the people who already have it all, and even they would start being interested in money if they lost it all.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by koxkoxkox (879667)

          You can buy pretty much anything with money.

          I really don't want your life ...

          • by fractoid (1076465)
            How do you mean? All that jazz about "the most important things in life are free"... sure, if you're comfortably fed, clothed, and protected. Romantic walks on the beach, religious activities, whatever else it was that you were thinking of that money can't buy - I can guarantee that they would not be too high up your list of priorities if you were freezing, starving, or in physical danger.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Imsdal (930595)
              As MAD Magazine said years ago: "The best things in life are free. The expensive part is paying for the dinner and movie that comes first".
            • by koxkoxkox (879667)

              Remember we are talking about the possibility of a guy saying : "ok, I don't want that much money, I have enough". Of course, if he doesn't have a home and enough to eat he should to have more money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SerpentMage (13390)

          In my early investing career I asked in a forum, "if somebody has a money making strategy why would they not use it themselves?"

          Two answers:

          1) They don't have enough capitalization and are trying to attract money.
          2) Snakeoil...

          1 does happen, albeit not that often, but it does. 2 is the more common answer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by fractoid (1076465)
            Yeah. Like that 'rich dad poor dad' guy. He thinks he's a financial guru but what he really did was make a modest fortune by sniping mortgage foreclosure auctions (in essence, ripping off the struggling families who'd just lost their homes), and then when that stopped working, he switched tactics to making money by selling "how to make money" books and giving seminars.
          • I always got the impression that it was because trading systems work - but only as well as the trader using them. I've found that knowing when *not* to follow your system is more important than whatever system you happened to be employing. That's knowledge that only comes with time and (often painful) experience.

            Your system could be excellent at predicting market movements, but you may just not be cut out to be a trader. In such a situation, selling the system itself could very well make more economic

      • Money isn't inherently evil - just like how guns don't kill people. If he is interested in a "science" of prediction, shouldn't he try his algorithm on the problem most resilient on any prediction method so far - the stock market?
        • by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday March 19, 2010 @03:33AM (#31533672) Journal

          His model seems to do well in cases where a relatively small number of people have significant influence on the outcome and since accurate predictions about the stock market require a model that both accurately predicts events in industry/production as well as the influence of large numbers of stockholders it probably wouldn't be wise to apply his model to that kind of situation; he even admits as much, that it's only good for fairly small groups.

          • by SPickett (911670)
            His model works if there are small number of GROUPS have influence. There are many stock market situations where this may be useful.

            For example, a stock in play for a takeover. You have groups within the takeover target - management, institutional shareholders, public shareholders. You have the acquiring company management and acquiring company shareholders. Maybe you have a second potential acquiring company out there for a possible bidding war. You have two groups of speculators, one betting on th
    • Agreed. Anyone who can predict the stock market with 90% accuracy should be able to make himself a billion dollars in a few months.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jandersen (462034)

      Why would you assume that the first thing anybody with a good idea would do, is to go and make money from it? Things like altruism and curiosity for its own sake are arguably some of the traits that make humans "human"; and there are many things that are much more interesting and satisfying than money.

      That aside, the purpose of game theory as such is to predict the behaviour of systems, so it isn't so surprising that they achieve some success. The big problem, as far as I can see, is to create a model that

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jiro (131519)

        First of all, there are so many things that money can buy that it's difficult to think of how someone who isn't a monk or equivalent wouldn't want some more. Does he have a mortgage? Children or grandchildren interested in going to Stanford? Even assuming his personal needs are met, enough money could, oh, endow a university and create a whole research center just to study his theories.

        But perhaps a more important reason is that using his theories to make money is hard to fudge. Making money would prove

        • by jandersen (462034)

          I think, at the end of the day, that what we have here is a combination of some journalist overstating the case and a scientist who has found something that is genuine, but not nearly as sensational as the article claims. A bit like when Einstein tried to explain that space-time is curved, and the newspapers translating it to "If you have a big enough telescope, you can see the back of your own head".

          As for what money can buy - your arguments are not wrong, but I think you simply don't know what drives many

  • by dynamo52 (890601) on Friday March 19, 2010 @01:59AM (#31533338)
    Hari Seldon invented psychohistory.
  • Ok, he claims he has 90% accuracy.

    What do, you know, independent evaluators of his claims say?

    • Re:90% Accuracy (Score:5, Informative)

      by red_blue_yellow (1353825) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:15AM (#31533418)

      Well, actually, they say 90%. From TFA:

      According to research by the CIA, Bueno de Mesquita's model is more than 90 per cent accurate (British Journal of Political Science, vol 26, p 441).

      Is that independent enough for you?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>Is that independent enough for you?

        Then that should have been posted in the summary instead. Whenever I read self-written claims of a model's accuracy, my bullshit meter goes off.

        In related news, Miss Cleo predicts ongoing instability in the Middle East, conflicts over water rights, and people being unhappy with those jokers in government.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          >>Is that independent enough for you?

          Then that should have been posted in the summary instead. Whenever I read self-written claims of a model's accuracy, my bullshit meter goes off.

          In related news, Miss Cleo predicts ongoing instability in the Middle East, conflicts over water rights, and people being unhappy with those jokers in government.

          In even more related news, you made a false assumption and are trying to justify it.

          • by ShakaUVM (157947)

            >>In even more related news, you made a false assumption and are trying to justify it.

            No, my point was that if you make easy predictions, then it's easy to get a high success rate.

          • It might have been a false assumption, but it was a logical one to make. What kind of BS summary talks about self claimed accuracy when an independent organization's claims are just as accurate?
      • by damburger (981828)

        Its a journal of political 'science'. Thats no more a science than social science is. Given the very qualitative nature of some of his predictions/confirmations:

        How are things going in Pakistan? The analysis in the penultimate chapter of The Predictioneer’s Game indicated that IF — a contingent forecast — the US gave Pakistan $1.5 billion in aid then the Pakistani government would turn away from making side deals with the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan and, instead, go after th

        • "Its a journal of political 'science'. Thats no more a science than social science is."

          Just for the record, political "science" IS one of the social "sciences". They call it science because it makes predictions but as you have rightly pointed out testing those predictions is more often a subjective art than an objective measurement.
    • What do, you know, independent evaluators of his claims say?

      Well he hasn't submitted anything about his computer model to peer review so I'd imagine that it would be something along the lines of show us how or it didn't happen.

      • by lxs (131946)

        I think the model can be very simple (basically multiply some probabilities). Asking the right questions and getting accurate data is the hard part.

        It's very easy to end up with a GIGO situation.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:10AM (#31533376)

    At least sometimes. If I make a thousand predictions (the more they contradict each other, the better) and only publish them AFTER the results are in, I can easily claim that I can predict the future. It's a simple magician's trick. Ask a person to think of a number between 1 and 10 (or pick a card, or whatever), then hand him a sealed envelope telling him you knew he'd pick that number (or hand him an envelope containing the card). You couldn't write it down and give him that envelope after he chose, so you have to be able to predict it, else you could not have written it down before the show, right?

    What you don't hand him are the other envelopes containing the other numbers/cards.

    • by madpansy (1410973)

      Sports picks hotlines also claim to predict the future, and they have to publish well before the results so their customers can place their bets. It's just too bad that every week half of their free picks for first timers are wrong.

      • That's actually a well known scam. Someone stands in front of a casino and tells someone a "secret" in exchange for a cut. He claims that he has a deal with the croupier that he fixed the game so it will land on red more often than on black. Of course, he tells the same story to another sucker, in reverse. And when it's time to cash in, he will of course only contact the one who actually really won...

    • If you predict the opposites you can be 99% correct.

      If I write 2 opposite predictions for an event that could really only have 2 outcomes (with a very small chance of something else happening altogether) and then in the future I show everyone one of the two, the one that ended up happening, I'd be almost 100% successful at predicting 'the future'.

  • That his 90% hit rate will shrink now that he has the Internetz attention.

    Bet he didn't predict *that*...

  • So what of the future? Another of Bueno de Mesquita's recent predictions addresses the future of climate change negotiations up to 2050. Depressingly, he predicts that although the world will negotiate tougher greenhouse gas reductions than in the Kyoto protocol, in practise these are likely to be abandoned as Brazil, India and China rise in power in relation to the European Union and the US.

    No word on what we could do to avoid such a fate. It would be interesting to see what if anything could be done to

    • by XanC (644172)

      I'm assuming you're talking about the fate where those countries pass us by because we've deliberately shackled ourselves, because we felt guilty about our own success?

      Sure. The way to avoid it is to not do that.

      • Not everything that is your immediate self interest is in your or your species' long term interest. Thievery, fraud and property destruction being perfect examples of this. So while it may benefit the fossil fuel industries to pretend nothing is our doing, the people that have to live with the consequences of pollution in all its forms surely don't. Even the most hard core libertarians admit that pollution is a form of rights violation; the *only* question are whether high levels of CO2 constitute such a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) *
          "As for how to reduce emissions to avoid such property damage, this is less clear cut."

          Yes, in the long run the tradgedy of the commons is a more destructive failure of politics than war.
    • I do think the Prisoner's Dilemma is a very good model for the global warming situation. If you think of it strictly in those terms, the only way to change the Nash equilibrium is to alter the benefits of the different strategies for all players. This could either mean some type of guaranteed punishment for defectors or some type of guaranteed benefit for cooperators. I think most people instinctively realize this -- but enforcing the benefits/penalties on a global scale is the difficult part.
      • guaranteed benefit for cooperators

        That's pretty much what I've been saying about the subject of AGW for quite some time now. China and friends are not going to "do the riht thing" unless there's money in it. Find a way to make meaningful AGW mitigation profitable and the problem largely solves its self.

        • Regulation makes it profitable, by making it costly (politically, economically, or otherwise) to fail to mitigate. How do you think you "find a way" to make something like this profitable?

  • Ahmadinejad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    He "predicted" that Ahmadinejad wouldn't be reelected to the presidency of Iran, because he's group had no popular support. We all know how that ended.

    • by SheeEttin (899897)

      He "predicted" that Ahmadinejad wouldn't be reelected to the presidency of Iran, because he's group had no popular support. We all know how that ended.

      I'm sure he assumed the elections were fair. ;)

      In any case, regimes with leaders like that don't need to get reelected. They just declare themselves dictator-for-life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      We all know how that ended.

      Well technically, he probably wasn't wrong on that point. It is quite possible, if not likely, that Ahmadinehad wasn't actually elected by the people of Iran but remained in power because the elections were rigged and didn't really matter anyway.

      • by mgvrolijk (215830)

        He probably should have toggled the Cheating Bastard check box.

      • Yeah picking on him for missing that prediction is like harping on somebody for predicting Nancy Kerrigan would win the 1994 US Skating Championship.

  • Not "the Future" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plasticsquirrel (637166) on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:44AM (#31533536)
    He doesn't claim to be able to simply "predict the future." Accurate information is only given in situations where a limited number of people are making a decision, and where accurate information is available on them for input. The key is basically that it assumes that serious decisions are made primarily according to the players' own interests (a reasonable assumption). Given the limited problem set, it doesn't seem too unrealistic to believe that one could make a very simple, basic model with some level of accuracy. Even without elegant theories, if accurate inputs and outputs from past events were available, a statistical model could probably be generated automatically.

    I wonder if eventually every government will spend significant time consulting these machine-oracles? It reminds me of the various mathematical methods of prediction that still exist in China and India. Some of the Chinese models still require a significant amount of abacus shuffling, and a large set of reference books for all the possibilities. These were probably formed from similar basic methods of trying to gather data, compare it, and map inputs to outputs.
    • by madpansy (1410973)

      I wonder if eventually every government will spend significant time consulting these machine-oracles?

      It's certainly not new. I remember reading about John von Neumann's interest in game theory and some of his work at RAND developing it for use in analyzing international relations. For example, it was the RAND corporation that used game theory to support the strategy of mutually assured destruction as a nuclear deterrent.

    • by mugurel (1424497)
      Right! And if he were to predict the future, we would stop calling it future. What use is a future if you can predict it?
  • I predict... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I predict that the people who pay attention to geo-politics and have a decent grasp of historical parallels can make an awful lot of money accurately forcasting the future by pretending to rely on mysterious and magical/scientific means.

    We've never seen this sort of thing in history *cough cough astrology cough cough* have we?

    Care to buy my "game theory"? I can give you 90% accuracy, just ask my "independant" buddies at the CIA... after all, what do they know about future political events? ;)

  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday March 19, 2010 @04:02AM (#31533748)
    I can believe a 90% hit rate. I can predict the future, and so can you, with 90% accuracy. See, if you don't claim to be able to predict EVERYTHING then you can easily "predict" obvious things.

    I predict that tomorrow someone will die in the world.
    I predict that tomorrow at least one person will spend $100 on a TV somewhere in the US.
    I predict that tomorrow the temperature will be higher than 32 deg F in California.

    Tomorrow look up these details and see how many I get right. I CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE!!

    This guy claims to be able to predict "only certain things" which really means he's predicting things obvious even if it's not obvious that they're obvious. For example, he claims to be able to predict foreign policy. Did he predict foreign policy, or did he just watch the news and make some predictions based off of what all the political analysts are saying?

    From TFA "These [predictions] include whether or not North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong II, would dismantle his nation's nuclear arsenal" How stupid do you have to be to believe that he "predicted" this? Everyone and their fucking aunt is watching the news, everyone is reporting on it, the government is doing fucking insane amounts of research and analysis as to what foreign leaders' views are regarding nuclear weapons. It's not that hard to make a guess as to what's going to happen when you have that much information available to you.
    • by lordlod (458156)

      From TFA "These [predictions] include whether or not North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong II, would dismantle his nation's nuclear arsenal" How stupid do you have to be to believe that he "predicted" this? Everyone and their fucking aunt is watching the news, everyone is reporting on it, the government is doing fucking insane amounts of research and analysis as to what foreign leaders' views are regarding nuclear weapons. It's not that hard to make a guess as to what's going to happen when you have that much information available to you.

      It's easy to write someone off to match your view but it's worth looking at what he actually does and the level of detail he goes into.

      Another example from his blog was looking at the nuclear situation in Iran, very similar to North Korea. He looks at the latest offering from the international community and predicts if it will be accepted or not. He predicts that it won't be accepted but he goes further and explains why, he also explains the kind of offer that would be accepted. Now the won't be accepte

    • 1. He doesn't make predictions himself, the program does, given input data about the players involved.
      2. The issues being predicted are non-obvious, such as surprise outcomes in Indian politics, made for the CIA.
      3. The issues are not arbitrary, but rather limited to rational decisions made by a number of people, but this may be in the hundreds.

      This is really about going beyond educated guessing, and the number of factors that a human mind could consider. It is about predicting group behavior, and relies on
  • by nido (102070) <nido56 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday March 19, 2010 @04:42AM (#31533844) Homepage

    From the /. story headline (emphasis added):

    Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Uses Games To See the Future

    Having read the fine links, it seems Mr. de Mesquita doesn't actually "see the future". He gathers data and throws it into his computer, which applies game rules to determine the most likely outcome. To me, "seeing the future" implies predicting the unpredictable - assasinations, a meteor taking out a major area, the abdication of a king (so he could marry his American sweetheart), etc.

    Indeed, here's a quote from the New Scientist article:

    According to political scientist Nolan McCarty of Princeton University, this is the real strength of the approach. "I suspect the model's success is largely due to the fact that Bueno de Mesquita is very good on the input side; he's a very knowledgeable person and a widely respected political scientist. I'm sceptical that the modelling apparatus adds as much predictive power as he says it does."

    Methinks Mr. de Mesquita's method works because he meticulously gathers excellent data. If his data was sloppy, his rate of successful "predictions" would be much lower than it is.

    Sometimes events which are 'unpredictable' happen. In retrospect we say, 'oh yes, this event was the only logical event to have taken place'. But such an event is typically unthinkable before it happens. Mr. deMesquita's model doesn't allow for the unpredictable, and is therefore NOT 'future seeing'.

    I have a book on seeing the future. Here's a quote from the first couple pages that I typed up for a 2008 election prediction poll on K5 [kuro5hin.org] a while back:

    Your Nostradamus Factor, by Ingo Swann [biomindsuperpowers.com]

    Chapter 1: Jumping The Time Barrier

    Like many others, I've had good reasons during my life to assume that the future can be seen. But if I had any doubt it would have vanished as a result of an astonishing forty-five seconds when I found myself in Detmold, then in West Germany, in the spring of 1988.

    Detmold is near the beautiful Teutoburger Forest and a famous pre-Christian shrine, Horn-Externstein, which is a pile of towering rocks riddled with sonorous caves. Until the time of Charlemagne it is said that Nordic kings came to Horn-Externstein to consult seers about the future.

    I was invited to Detmold by Herr Manfred Himmel in April 19988 to give a series of lectures about psi research. This was Herr Himmel's fifth "esoteric" conference, and it was well attended by several hundred people. Herr Himmel was ardent about psychic matters, and the talks of his other speakers were interesting to me. Some of these speakers were also practicing psychics who were busy giving individual "readings" and making predictions about the future.

    I was billed as the famous American superpsychic who had "astonished scientists" since my first formal laboratory experiments in 1970. But I have never given individual "readings," and I never made predictions about the future.

    Many of Herr Himmel's conference attendees were visibly disappointed that I did not give the expected readings and did not foresee the future. Although I had studied "prophecy" and predicting for many years and had even experienced some novel insights about it, I was well aware that most predictions turn out to be wrong. I felt I had a scientific reputation to protect, which would be damaged if I accumulated a list of erroneous predictions. Moreover, I didn't view myself as a future-seer in any professional sense, and I though that predicting should be left to those who were or at least tried to be.

    I gave several lectures and workshops at the conference, as well as the keynote address. I had worked hard at preparing this address, entitling it "Revising Psychic Research Methods and Expectations in the New Age," and even gave the opening statements in German before continuing

    • The last few paragraphs of the fine article validate my post above. Here's a quote:

      So what of the future? Another of Bueno de Mesquita's recent predictions addresses the future of climate change negotiations up to 2050. Depressingly, he predicts that although the world will negotiate tougher greenhouse gas reductions than in the Kyoto protocol, in practise these are likely to be abandoned as Brazil, India and China rise in power in relation to the European Union and the US.

      One 'black swan' that Bueno de Mes

  • Apparantly Bruce seems to use logic to predict ... so do predictions beat logic now ?

  • This seems a lot like the Bible Code by Michael Drosnin. Turned out his method could be used to predict famous assassinations from the pages of Moby Dick (something Michael said would be silly). http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html [anu.edu.au]
  • He could have 90% accuracy in pretty close events, but can't predict what will do small groups of people (i.e. 9/11, spanish inquisition) or interferences of events not caused by people (recent eartquakes, katrina, yellowstone caldera, etc). In Foundation you had a (spoiler alert) second foundation to keep things going when "accidents" happen (/spoiler alert), here you only have mass media to try to correct trends in the "right" path. So predicting a month or a year ahead could end having much less than 90%
  • There is nothing new in this. People have been using game theory to make predictions for decades.

    In fact, it is one way that Japan screwed up in WW2. They gamed out different strategies for the Battle of Midway during which an admiral arbitrarily lowered Japanese casualties. The results of the changed games showed an easy win for Japan, but when the arbitrary changes were removed, the results of the gaming exercises reflected the Japanese losing the battle.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

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