Today’s Quotes: Why Predictions By Experts Are Predictably Poor

“…[A] survey of predictions by pundits has confirmed that ‘The future is impossible to predict.’ Liberals, moderates and conservatives were ‘equally ineffective’ in foreseeing global events while the most celebrated experts tended to be the worst, because they’re so sure of themselves that they deny evidence that contradicts their conclusions. ‘In other words,’ adds UC psychologist Philip Tetlock, ‘Our political discourse is driven in large part by people whose opinions are less accurate than a coin toss.’ ”
— Philip Proctor, “Weird Science,” Planet Proctor 2011-3, Feb. 28, 2011.

“Not one so-called ‘expert’ on the Middle East in the American media predicted the Tunisian uprising or Mubarak’s downfall in Egypt. It’s my belief the reason is that all of them come at any situation overseas with notions that were conceived during the Cold War and their thinking hasn’t progressed since. That, and their knowledge of the Middle East is filtered through the lens of American exceptionalism that automatically downgrades all foreigners to the status of ignorant second-class human beings. As long as this is the case, we will continue to blunder our way through that part of the world to our sorrow.”
— Richard Sherricky

“In normal circumstances, people who turn their backs on reality are soon set straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them, which makes them aware they have lost credibility. In the Third Reich there were no such correctives, especially for those who belonged to the upper stratum. On the contrary, every self-deception was multiplied as in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world, which no longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world. In those mirrors I could see nothing but my own face reproduced many times over.”
— Albert Speer, Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and War Production, as quoted by Davidson Loehr in “Egyptian Irony,” CommonDreams, Feb. 11, 2011.

“Predictions of the future are never anything but projections of present automatic processes and procedures, that is, of occurrences that are likely to come to pass if men do not act and if nothing unexpected happens; every action, for better or worse, and every accident necessarily destroys the whole pattern in whose frame the prediction moves and where it finds its evidence.”
— Hannah Arendt

“You can never understand the present, nor anticipate the future, without accurately knowing the past.”
— Arris Jaye