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Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? Paperback – August 20, 2006
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Winner of the 2006 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order
Winner of the 2006 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, American Political Science Association
Winner of the 2006 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, American Political Science Association
Winner of the 2006 Robert E. Lane Award, Political Psychology Section of the American Political Science Association
"It is the somewhat gratifying lesson of Philip Tetlock's new book . . . that people who make prediction their business--people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables--are no better than the rest of us. When they're wrong, they're rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. . . . It would be nice if there were fewer partisans on television disguised as "analysts" and "experts". . . . But the best lesson of Tetlock's book may be the one that he seems most reluctant to draw: Think for yourself."--Louis Menand, The New Yorker
"The definitive work on this question. . . . Tetlock systematically collected a vast number of individual forecasts about political and economic events, made by recognised experts over a period of more than 20 years. He showed that these forecasts were not very much better than making predictions by chance, and also that experts performed only slightly better than the average person who was casually informed about the subject in hand."--Gavyn Davies, Financial Times
"Before anyone turns an ear to the panels of pundits, they might do well to obtain a copy of Phillip Tetlock's new book Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? The Berkeley psychiatrist has apparently made a 20-year study of predictions by the sorts who appear as experts on TV and get quoted in newspapers and found that they are no better than the rest of us at prognostication."--Jim Coyle, Toronto Star
"Tetlock uses science and policy to brilliantly explore what constitutes good judgment in predicting future events and to examine why experts are often wrong in their forecasts."--Choice
"[This] book . . . Marshals powerful evidence to make [its] case. Expert Political Judgment . . . Summarizes the results of a truly amazing research project. . . . The question that screams out from the data is why the world keeps believing that "experts" exist at all."--Geoffrey Colvin, Fortune
"Philip Tetlock has just produced a study which suggests we should view expertise in political forecasting--by academics or intelligence analysts, independent pundits, journalists or institutional specialists--with the same skepticism that the well-informed now apply to stockmarket forecasting. . . . It is the scientific spirit with which he tackled his project that is the most notable thing about his book, but the findings of his inquiry are important and, for both reasons, everyone seriously concerned with forecasting, political risk, strategic analysis and public policy debate would do well to read the book."--Paul Monk, Australian Financial Review
"Phillip E. Tetlock does a remarkable job . . . applying the high-end statistical and methodological tools of social science to the alchemistic world of the political prognosticator. The result is a fascinating blend of science and storytelling, in the the best sense of both words."--William D. Crano, PsysCRITIQUES
"Mr. Tetlock's analysis is about political judgment but equally relevant to economic and commercial assessments."--John Kay, Financial Times
"Why do most political experts prove to be wrong most of time? For an answer, you might want to browse through a very fascinating study by Philip Tetlock . . . who in Expert Political Judgment contends that there is no direct correlation between the intelligence and knowledge of the political expert and the quality of his or her forecasts. If you want to know whether this or that pundit is making a correct prediction, don't ask yourself what he or she is thinking--but how he or she is thinking."--Leon Hadar, Business Times
From the Inside Flap
"This is a marvelous book--fascinating and important. It provides a stimulating and often profound discussion, not only of what sort of people tend to be better predictors than others, but of what we mean by good judgment and the nature of objectivity. It examines the tensions between holding to beliefs that have served us well and responding rapidly to new information. Unusual in its breadth and reach, the subtlety and sophistication of its analysis, and the fair-mindedness of the alternative perspectives it provides, it is a must-read for all those interested in how political judgments are formed."--Robert Jervis, Columbia University
"This book is a landmark in both content and style of argument. It is a major advance in our understanding of expert judgment in the vitally important and almost impossible task of political and strategic forecasting. Tetlock also offers a unique example of even-handed social science. This may be the first book I have seen in which the arguments and objections of opponents are presented with as much care as the author's own position."--Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Secondly, Tetlock demonstrates that experts who know something about a number of related topics (foxes) predict better than experts who know a great deal about one thing (hedgehogs). Generalist knowledge adds to accuracy.
Tetlock's survey of this research is clear, crisp, and compelling. His work has direct application to world affairs. For example he is presenting his findings to a conference of Intelligence Community leaders next week (Jan 2007) at the invitation of the Director of National Intelligence.
"Expert Political Judgment" is recommended to anyone who depends on political experts, which is pretty much all of us. Tetlock helps the non-experts to know more about what the experts know, how they know it, and how much good it does them in making predictions.
His most important finding about what distinguishes the worst from the not-so-bad is that those on the hedgehog end of Isaiah Berlin's spectrum (who derive predictions from a single grand vision) are wrong more often than those near the fox end (who use many different ideas). He convinced me that that finding is approximately right, but leaves me with questions.
Does the correlation persist at the fox end of the spectrum, or do the most fox-like subjects show some diminished accuracy?
How do we reconcile his evidence that humans with more complex thinking do better than simplistic humans, but simple autoregressive models beat all humans? That seems to suggest there's something imperfect in using the hedgehog-fox spectrum. Maybe a better spectrum would use evidence on how much data influences their worldviews?
Another interesting finding is that optimists tend to be more accurate than pessimists. I'd like to know how broad a set of domains this applies to. It certainly doesn't apply to predicting software shipment dates. Does it apply mainly to domains where experts depend on media attention?
To what extent can different ways of selecting experts change the results? Tetlock probably chose subjects that resemble those who most people regard as experts, but there must be ways of selecting experts which produce better forecasts. It seems unlikely they can match <a href="[...]">prediction markets</a>, but there are situations where we probably can't avoid relying on experts.Read more ›
I tend to like this book in part because it reaffirms my prior beliefs. And it does so in a very careful way. Tetlock bends over backwards to test his own conclusions. A particularly insightful conclusion is that those who are most likely to get publicity for their predictions are also those who are least likely to be right.
Two mild criticisms. First, the book veers into the highly technical at times and is not really for the lay reader. It was perhaps not intended to be for an audience beyond academia but some of the attention it has gotten may have attracted a broader audience that may have to gloss over wide sections of the book. Second, in his conclusions, Tetlock attempts to broaden his already far-reaching argument to deal with conflicts between relativists and objectivists. This felt tacked on and too cursory to contribute in this area.
But as far as his treatment of experts goes, I wish that everyone could read this and treat them with a more cynical eye.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read Tetlock’s works in reverse chronological order. I first read Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, and read this book afterwards. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Sympa
The book opens with a full throated defense of the American invasion of Iraq and how doves who pine for a counterfactual reality where Saddam is still in power discount the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by d
This books information is fascinating and challenging to read and absorb.Published 7 months ago by nick s
Hard to handle the statistical sections but the basic message is fascinating. Go Foxes.Published 17 months ago by harrison young
Brilliant research written up in a clear fashion. Important work that is quoted widely. Important implications for society and our politicsPublished 23 months ago by David McKay
We all think about the world and everything else in terms of our mental models. This has its own limitations, but used properly we will still be able to understand and predict the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Vinayagamoorthy
This book is excellent at demonstrating that *expertise* should be the goal of education, and not "critical thinking". Read morePublished on October 8, 2013 by W Stephens