If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I am taking part in the Good Judgment Project, where a number of us are predicting future world events. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself to be all that knowledgeable about world events, but I am doing quite well in predicting outcomes. In fact, I haven’t got any prediction wrong, except for one fluke that caught almost everyone by surprise. So much so, that the Project excluded this question from the rankings.
While I may not be an expert in world events, I do have some knowledge in most areas, which I gain by reading The Economist every week, reading local papers, and watching CNN. So, how am I doing it?
I think the main reason I have been successful is my perspective on the world in general. We have experienced a huge recession (still are in most parts of the world), financial turmoil in the EU, a U.S. election year, and the Arab Spring. As a result, except for a few specific instances, I have predicted that most events will not occur. That is, the status quo will prevail.
Here are a few examples (percentages relate to likelihoods of the status quo outcome):
Will Saif al-islam Gaddafi face trial before March 31? I bet no at 13% and it now stands at 86%
Will a civil war break out in Syria before April 1? I bet no at 37%. It’s now at 69%
Will South Korea announce a policy of reducing Iranian oil imports by April 1? I bet no at 23% and it’s now at 76%.
Will Asif Ali Zardari lose the Presidency of Pakistan by June 1? I bet no at 29% and it is now at 41%.
Will the U.N. Security Council pass a resolution regarding Syria by March 31? I bet no at 27% and it’s now at 69%.
Will the U.N. Security Council pass a resolution regarding Iran before April 1? I bet no at 41% and it is now at 86%
Will Greece remain in the EU at June 1? I bet yes (status quo) at 50% and it’s now at 82%.
Most of my other no “bets” were placed at 50% and are now in the 75% – 94% range.
The only exception to the status quo bets was a major bet I placed on whether Wade would be re-elected in Senegal. I bet that he would not be re-elected at 18% and it is now sitting at 80%. I decided against the status quo on this issue, because Wade is old (he could die), there had been a lot of political unrest in Senegal, and if Wade did not receive at least 50% of the vote during the election, a run-off election would be called to decide the winner. In my opinion, Wade will lose the run-off, as the opposition candidates will come together and elect Macky Sall instead. It’s looking better every day.
Based on this anecdotal evidence, it appears that many of the participants in my group display an initial bias towards change, which lowers the early likelihood of the status quo outcome. In fact, it appears that most events will not occur before the deadlines, meaning that there should be a natural bias towards the status quo. By betting the status quo after the early “chimps” have bet on change, one can be very successful, indeed. I expect to rocket up the leaderboard once the results are announced in early April. I’ll let you know.
Update April 5, 2012: Well, I did do quite well on the questions that closed around the end of March, “earning” about $40,000. This “rocketed” me up the leaderboard from #13 to #9. The top predictor broke past $100,000 in winnings. Once you get behind, there’s no way to catch the front runners, because no one loses a bet in this game (at least they shouldn’t).