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Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  547 ratings  ·  59 reviews
The intelligence failures surrounding the invasion of Iraq dramatically illustrate the necessity of developing standards for evaluating expert opinion. This book fills that need. Here, Philip E. Tetlock explores what constitutes good judgment in predicting future events, and looks at why experts are often wrong in their forecasts.


Tetlock first discusses arguments about wh
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Paperback, 321 pages
Published August 20th 2006 by Princeton University Press (first published July 5th 2005)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Adam S. Rust
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An ambitious and thought-provoking study on the value and reliability of experts in the field of politics and the economy. Starting in the 1980s political scientist Philip Tetlock interviewed experts seeking their predictions on the outcomes various future events (such as Gorbachev's interest in reform, the ascendency of Japanese economic power, etc.).

The conclusions drawn from the outcomes of these expert predictions were bleak, experts are frequently wrong and almost consistently underperform
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Marks54
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book reports on a research project to understand the bases behind expert political judgment. What does it mean to make such judgments and how do we determine the quality of such judgments -- or the "track record" of those experts making the judgments. This is a hard question to address. Quality judgment is not just about whether some prediction comes true or not. It is not just about simple forecasting. It is not about simple topics, such as whether a make of car will be reliable, but conce ...more
Daniel Hageman
This book really hit the sweet spot with respect to counterfactual reasoning as applied to probability adjustment and its intimate relationship with political decision making. While some of the taxonomies identified to distinguish between the myriad tendencies people display did seem like an overreach at times, this is definitely a must-read for anyone seriously interested in historical and future societal trajectories (or those like myself who find solace in maintaining baseline levels of epist ...more
Lee Richardson
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book! Nowadays, with so many opinions flying around the internet, it's hard to know: Who should we listen to? What are reliable sources of information? Whose predictions should we take seriously? How much uncertainty is these in this prediction? Do the talking heads on TV know more than the rest of us, or is it just entertainment?

To answer these questions, Phil Tetlock records the predictions of hundreds of political experts for many political events, such as the fall of the Soviet Union
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Billie Pritchett
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Philip Tetlock's book Expert Political Judgment wants to know something very simple that is very difficult to find out. Through research, Tetlock wants to know how people can make good predictions about big social, economic, and political issues. For example: Is it possible for an expert to have predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union? Did anyone predict the collapse? What kinds of knowledge would an expert have to have to predict something like that?

After a long and detailed study, he discov
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Zhou Fang
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Superforecasting, I knew I had to pick up Philip Tetlock's original work. What I appreciated about this book and Tetlock's work in general is the level of rigor he goes into to make his arguments. Additionally, he gives opposing arguments fair treatments in their strongest forms. Here, he makes the case again that "hedgehogs" who derive arguments from knowing "one big thing" are weaker forecasters than "foxes" who know a lot of little things. He gives strong credence to the hedgeho ...more
Devin Partlow
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
At first glance you'd think, "Awesome a book that will help to choose which political experts I should put my faith in". But then you'd have to remember that this big scientific experiment which didn't take influence into account. If a prominent figure predicts that something is going to happen, that prediction is going to influence the outcome.

If life could be neatly controlled like simulated lab environments, the results of these social experiments would hold weight, but unfortunately that's
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Michelle Tran
The study and methodology to quantify forecasting judgements was interesting, but the academic verbiage was somewhat distracting.
Teo 2050
2017.07.14–2017.07.15

Superforecasting is a popularization of this work. This is difficult to grasp in audio form: e.g. contains factor analysis tables.

Contents

Tetlock PE (2005) (09:48) Expert Political Judgment - How Good Is It? How Can We Know?

Acknowledgments
Preface

1. Quantifying the Unquantifiable
• Here Lurk (the Social Science Equivalent of) Dragons
• Tracking Down an Elusive Construct
• • Getting It Right
• • • 1. Challenging whether the playing fields are level.
• • • 2. Challenging whether for
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Dylan O'Connell
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I place Philip Tetlock right among the most important social science researchers of the past 50 years. I won’t pretend to know the work of a wide enough array of social scientists to make overly hyperbolic claims, but it’s hard to understate the long term potential of his work. And it’s beyond baffling that there’s so little competition. The empirical study of good judgment should be an entire discipline–instead, we largely have Tetlock (with many covering important adjacent work, but not tackli ...more
Pandit
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
One of the classic textbooks! I had it on my radar for a while, but after John Cleese mentioned it in a recent interview, it was time to pick it up for myself. I hear that Tetlocks more recent book is an easier read, but academic though the style is here, it is easy enough to follow. The story presented is quite clear: Political experts do not have a good track record in making predictions.
Tetlock though, in this long term study, looks at the underlying character styles of different experts, br
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Hariharan Gopalakrishnan
Rereading after a year (actually read most of the mathematical parts, but just listened to the rest on audible- it's surprisingly east to grok in audio form considering the subject matter, although taking notes on your smartphone helps!).

This is a thoughtful work about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of expert judgement in forecasting scenarios in messy domains such as politics and economics. This is the condensation of 20 years of research using forecasting tournaments by the author. Tl;dr
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Ed
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This a fantastic data based exploration of just how little political pundits actually know. And in fact the more media exposed, the more single view of the world they possess, the less accurate are their political forecasts. Philip Tetlock over 20 years persuaded political experts to make predictions on a wide variety of topics, only to find that most experts were less reliable than a chimp picking options via a dart board. He used Isaiah Berlin's wonderful distinction between the Hedgehog that ...more
Lorenzo Barberis Canonico
Wow, so this is the collection of Tetlock's primary research findings that paved the way for "Superforecasting". I recommend reading the latter first though.

Also, if you've read "Superforecasting" first, don't expect the same writing style for this one because unfortunately academic books are not written in the nicest way. Still, the findings and the methodologies are so impressive: they will make you believe in social science research again.
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Frank Aaskov
Nov 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Worst book I have read this year. Basically just a very long academic article. Here I thought I'd read an interesting non-fiction on expert political opinion, and instead I was bored by page after page of methodology, blabber and dense footnotes. Not recommendable to anyone. ...more
Jurij Fedorov
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Review

No, not for me at all even though I love politics and social science.

Now, the audiobook may be lower quality than the book itself for sure. I really didn't enjoy the wooden but yet still over the top narrator with a voice I never quite enjoyed. It was like he was reading words without reading the meaning of the sentences while nearly screaming each word. The book itself doesn't really make for a good audiobook though so the narrator is not fully to blame. It's dry academic writing and a co
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Nick Quenga
Mar 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Eye opening perspective on how far we should trust expert judgement. The forward to the newer edition was helpful perspective and allowed the author to try to unpack his theory that has been turned into a negative sound-bite. The fact that political experts used this attack method proves his major point: that experts do no better than informed dilettantes and often less well in their subject of expertise in the long term.

The experimental method is betting on outcomes with numerical values. Then
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Ryan
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book about the kind of biases "professional" pundits have in talking about political topics. Very data-driven, and shows that experts are better than the completely uninformed (college students or worse), but that experts are actually also good outside of their areas of expertise, if they rely on decent information sources. There's an even more exciting result -- fairly straightforward computer models can do even better than experts, even within their areas of expertise.

One thing
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Ben Seiss
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is one of those where the conclusions are fascinating, but the book itself is not worth reading. The vocabulary is often inaccessible for readers who are not versed in statistics. I was hoping that the book would be a collection of crappy takes by Stephen A. Smith-like people who think too highly of themselves, but the book is more a narrative account of a science experiment with references to hedgehogs, foxes, dilettantes, and chimps instead of real people. It felt like I was reading ...more
Planar
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. Makes a complete and concise case on how political forecasting can be evaluated with quantifiable criteria. Also such thesis has the obvious relativist limitations (recognised by the author himself) but overall is a valiant effort to quantify and evaluate different forecasting approaches.
Sadly I chose to listen to this as an audiobook. This was a bad choice since the text is supported by numerous graphs and equations that are difficult to follow in the audio format.
Go fo
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Hamish Seamus
Something I hadn't appreciated before is that the reason Tetlock makes such a big deal of the fox/hedgehog dichotomy is that he's a psychologist by training, and thus inclined to taxonomize cognitive styles.

This is also a study of excuses: what are all the ways that people can try to weasel out of having made wrong predictions, and how much should we take these seriously? A much more challenging question than it sounds.
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Ewell Gregoor
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I read the superforecasting book first which was excellent, 5/5. The issue being i got that much into forcasting and watching Podcasts with Tetlock that i was reading story`s and theories i know in less detail.

If you fancy taking on Tetlocks work, do so in the order of the books:
Expert political judgement, Then, Superforecasting
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Stefan Bruun
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
The book includes a lot of very valuable points. Most people would benefit from understanding these. The reason I only give it three stars is that the point could have been conveyed in far fewer pages.
Adrian
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dropped
Big overlap with 'Superforecasting'... ...more
Mahmoud Bioni
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Concedering research results, He doubt his self a bit
Boris
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must read.
Taylor Newill
Written by the Superforecasting guy, a bit too low level
Matt Danner
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gets pretty technical but a good overall read. Berlin fans will enjoy the extended discussion of foxes and hedgehogs in chapters 3-6. I read and recommend the updated (2017) edition.
Alex Regan
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Way too in the weeds. Quite impenetrable for laypersons.
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