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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  444 ratings  ·  40 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
Paperback, 321 pages
Published August 20th 2006 by Princeton University Press (first published July 5th 2005)
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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
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
The fox knows many things and the hedgehog knows one big thing. In political forecasting, the foxes have a much better track record than hedgehogs. It takes some detachment to discern. One must not fall in love with their big ideas. A fox must be able to argue against their own conjectures and doubt and come up with competing scenarios to their pet theory. In other words, keep their minds and options open. Easier said than done.
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
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
Michelle Tran
The study and methodology to quantify forecasting judgements was interesting, but the academic verbiage was somewhat distracting.
Teo 2050

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


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


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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dropped
Big overlap with 'Superforecasting'...
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must read.
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.
Mahmoud Bioni
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Concedering research results, He doubt his self a bit
Taylor Newill
Written by the Superforecasting guy, a bit too low level
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brilliant topic, but definitely not for the general public. Very much geared to people within the Political Science field, most likely even further niche: only those that pursue academia in the field.

Highly interesting semi-psychological study.
Pete Welter
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Political experts and pundits share their predictions every day via think thanks, lectures and often through the media. Their qualifications are almost invariably impeccable. However, they often contradict each other, so we know they can't always be right. The question this answers are: "how accurate are they?" and, if some experts are more accurate than others, "what are the characteristics of the most accurate forecasters?" To answer these questions, Tetlock did a long term study with hundreds ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fantastic book marred by an over-reaching thesis. On one level, Tetlock is to be greatly commended for systematically documenting that so-called or self-styled "political experts" are in fact no better and in many cases worse than laymen at predicting political outcomes, and also for documenting in details the various psychological machinations (survivorship bias, etc.) that these experts engage in, in order to affirm their expertise in the face of failed predictions. On another level, however ...more
Wai Yip Tung
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is Philip Tetlock's ambitious study to measure and quantify expert's judgment over political events. The main finding is expert sucks. They are hardly better than chimps. But still he discover there are two category of people with different cognitive style that matters. The "hedgehogs" know one big thing and show much confidence in his grand theory to expand and predict things. The "foxes" know many small things, uses diverse source of information for forecasting rather and are more open to ...more
Frans Saxén
Tetlock proceeds an interesting study of how bad experts are at making predictions. While many experts might want to claim that making predictions is not really their main expertise, the results Tetlock presents are nevertheless interesting, and should give pause for thought. The book is quite rich in detail, so much so that for a casual reading it is not always the greatest of pleasures. Nevertheless, the flip side of this is that the methodology is quite clearly spelt out, and as said, the res ...more
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The best predictor of good judgment is the extent to which people think about thinking.

Interesting book. Feeds into my confirmation bias about the importance of metacognition (and the fact that I am probably a 'fox').

Foxes tend to fall short when presented with a wide range of scenarios (overestimate probabilities of events when imagining many possible scenarios).
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
A bonafide classic. Tetlock is quite foxlike in his willingness to entertain the possibility not only that he could be wrong but also that the whole project could be misguided. Not only conducts robust tests (in my opinion) of forecasting abilities but gives fair presentations of competing theoretical perspectives.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent. It changed the way I think about people: foxes and hedgehogs are part of my internal vocabulary now. The author's conclusions were well documented, and though it is a bit dry, scholarly, and repetitive in parts, I appreciated those choices.
Robb Seaton
I'm confused as to the purpose of this book. It starts with data -- formal models consistently outperform human judgment -- and then spends the rest of the book deconstructing what separates terrible human judgment from bad human judgment. Shouldn't we be talking about, you know, model building?
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