Book: "Expert Political Judgment"

From: Emil Gilliam (
Date: Sat Dec 10 2005 - 14:52:55 MST

A review of Philip Tetlock's new book, "Expert Political Judgment:
How Good Is It? How Can We Know?"

' “Expert Political Judgment” is not a work of media criticism.
Tetlock is a psychologist—he teaches at Berkeley—and his conclusions
are based on a long-term study that he began twenty years ago. He
picked two hundred and eighty-four people who made their living
“commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends,” and
he started asking them to assess the probability that various things
would or would not come to pass, both in the areas of the world in
which they specialized and in areas about which they were not expert.
Would there be a nonviolent end to apartheid in South Africa? Would
Gorbachev be ousted in a coup? Would the United States go to war in
the Persian Gulf? Would Canada disintegrate? (Many experts believed
that it would, on the ground that Quebec would succeed in seceding.)
And so on. By the end of the study, in 2003, the experts had made
82,361 forecasts. Tetlock also asked questions designed to determine
how they reached their judgments, how they reacted when their
predictions proved to be wrong, how they evaluated new information
that did not support their views, and how they assessed the
probability that rival theories and predictions were accurate. '

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