Monday, March 21, 2011

The Results of Tetlock's Experiment Part 2

Continuing from last week's post, and also from Dan Gardner:
What made a big difference is how they think. Experts who did particularly badly – meaning they would have improved their results if they had flipped a coin through the whole exercise – were not comfortable with complexity and uncertainty. They sought to “reduce the problem to some core theoretical theme,” Tetlock says, and they used that theme over and over, like a template, to stamp out predictions. These experts were also more confident than others that their predictions were accurate. Why wouldn’t they be? They were sure their One Big Idea was right and so the predictions they stamped out with that idea must be, too. Experts who did better than the average of the group – and better than random guessing – thought very differently. They had no template. Instead, they drew information and ideas from multiple sources and sought to synthesize it. They were self-critical, always questioning whether what they believed to be true really was. And when they were shown that they had made mistakes, they didn’t try to minimize, hedge, or evade. They simply acknowledged they were wrong and adjusted their thinking accordingly. Most of all, these experts were comfortable seeing the world as complex and uncertain – so comfortable that they tended to doubt the ability of anyone to predict the future. That resulted in a paradox: The experts who were more accurate than others tended to be much less confident that they were right.

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