Why an Open Mind Is Key to Making Better Predictions

In our early work, which … goes back into the mid-1980s, we did use the metaphor of the dart-throwing chimp to capture a baseline for performance, which is, how much better can you do than chance? If you had a system that was just generating forecasts by chance, how well would you do relative to that? When you ask people in the political world, “Who has good judgment?” The answer typically is, “People who think like me.” There’s a slight tendency for people who are superforecasters to be more moderate and less ideological, but there are lots of superforecasters who have strong opinions. What distinguishes superforecasters is their ability to put aside their opinions, at least temporarily, and just focus on accuracy. That’s a very demanding exercise for people.

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