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Math Science Games Politics

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Uses Games To See the Future 134

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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  • 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:90% Accuracy (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @02:29AM (#31533474)

    >>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 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 nido ( 102070 ) <> 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 [] a while back:

    Your Nostradamus Factor, by Ingo Swann []

    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

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @08:51AM (#31535042) []

    Results 1 - 10 of about 57,900 for predictioneer.

One good suit is worth a thousand resumes.