Friday, February 3, 2017

Make Predictions or STFU

One of the reasons I started this blog was to go on the record about things early on. I found myself in debates saying things like, "Yeah I knew this was going to happen...." People don't really believe those sorts of assertions because anyone can say they saw it coming. Hindsight is 20/20. If you believe you have a good model or understanding of the world, you should be able to make predictions about outcomes. This is particularly effective if the outcomes are not intuitive or go counter to the conventional beliefs, and it is the foundation of scientific inquiry. It goes something like:
Model → Prediction → Test → Analysis
I've also had some good success applying this technique on PredictIt.
Model → Invest (place bet) → Results → Reinvest Profits
If you can't make predictions on outcomes, you really can't say you understand anything at all. If you make predictions and they fail, you can analyze why, and update your model if needed. You should get to a point where you are reliably making predictions, and being proven wrong is atypical and viewed as an interesting opportunity to modify your model or explain how the events unfolded in a way outside the scope of your model.

I no longer trust people who only complain about politics, which seems to be the majority of political discourse I encounter. Ask yourself: does this person really understand anything? Do they reliably make predictions about outcomes? If the answer is no, then tread carefully. These people quite likely have a political stance rooted in emotions and fallacies and cherry pick the data they surround themselves with to validate those stances. If they never make predictions or their predictions tend to fly in the face of reality (example) then you can't trust anything they say to be rooted in a rational approach to understanding the universe.


In this election cycle Scott Adam's became notorious for making predictions about Trump well before anyone else that largely came true. And he's still at it.

You may need to click for the larger view to read the text. Adam's had a model for how the media operates, made a prediction, and saw that come true. It wasn't all we heard about, but in the context of it being a false narrative that the media would strongly push for political purposes he was proven to be entirely correct.

Incidentally I made my own prediction, not here unfortunately, but on the reddit thread where this was posted one week ago today (Friday January 27).

I was sort of piggybacking on the commenter before me, but the prediction is there nevertheless. Let's see how that panned out in just a week's time.

It was widely reported that leaked transcripts from the Trump administration show that Trump humiliated Mexican President Nieto to the point of threatening military invasion.

Mexico has denied it.

It was also widely reported that Trump has a similarly belligerent phone call with Australian PM Turnbull in which Trump rudely hung up on him.

And Australia has also denied it. He was highly critical of an immigration deal made with Obama, but none of the angry slamming down the phone the media has run with.

There are some reasons this was an easy prediction to make.
  1. I know the media is driven by political biases and not a reverence for objective truth.
  2. The media already ran with the utterly ridiculous Russian dossier.
  3. Trump was doing this throughout the entire election. Dropping things that would trigger media hysteria but on closer examination would prove to be fairly rational statements.
  4. Trump's team is playing 4D Chess against the media.
Now we don't know the media is dangling ridiculous stories for the media to run with, but that seems to be the case. The claim is the Washington Post, already revealed as entirely partisan, has an insider in the White House leaking information. More like they think they have an insider. If that was the case then you'd think that source would be burned, but the media is so dumb they'll probably fall for it again. And expect they'll find other ways for nonsense to leak into the media. 

The strategy is clear: discredit the media by showing the ridiculous nonsense they will run with as if it was serious news. The media could of course counter by actually doing it's job and employing journalistic integrity. Prediction: mostly they won't. Those that try will become cathartic because political propaganda is all they really know how to do. I would expect at least a couple players to fill the journalism void; it just seems there must be sufficient market demand for that at this point.

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