Debrief – failed prediction

In a post I wrote ten days ago, I made an attempt to predict the future.

“I went to the website of a certain sportsbetting company and put $100 on Daft Punk to win this year’s Hottest 100 with the song Get Lucky,” I revealed.

I can now report I lost that $100 backing my own judgment. The song in question came 3rd in the Hottest 100. I had never even heard the winning song before.

Hopefully I have traded that $100 for some useful perspective and humility.

That is going to be an important theme this year as I play my part in the Good Judgment Project. I’ve been assigned to a team and just finished my training.

The training emphasised the importance of putting time and effort into exploring both “inside” and “outside” views of a prediction.

In the case of the 2013 Hottest 100, I over-emphasised the “inside” view. I was so sure Get Lucky was the best track I had heard all year, that I didn’t go and run any real analysis of what sort of tracks won the Hottest 100.

If I had done that “outside” analysis, I would have found a dearth of French disco tracks and a preponderance of  acoustic / folk tracks, such as Mumford and Sons’ Little Lion Man, which topped the poll in 2009.

I may also have noticed a lot of Australian tracks, like Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know (#1, 2011) And of course, the killer combo, acoustic/folk tracks by local artists like Angus and Julia Stone’s Big Jet Plane (#1, 2010).

With that sort of analysis to hand, Vance Joy’s win with Riptide is not so surprising.

It ticks all the boxes… except actually having an emotional reaction to it. It doesn’t tick that box.

So, anyway, my forecasting record is reduced to ashes. But, like the legend of the phoenix, all ends with beginnings. One is not going to make progress without making a few mistakes. The important thing is to shine a light on them and try to improve.

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

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