We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask a Pundit—or Flip a Coin

This is one not to be passed up.  Hamilton College has just published the final report of a class project conducted by five students. The paper, "Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? An Analysis of the Accuracy of Forecasts in the Political Media," analyzes the accuracy of the predictions of 26 political pundits.  According to the Executive Summary, the students found that only six of the 26 pundits were more accurate than flipping a coin.  Four were actually less accurate than 50-50.  The most accurate by a large margin was Paul Krugman who scored an impressive 88% accuracy rate in his forecasts for the study period, September 2007 through December 2008—partly because he is a leading economist and only made economic forecasts.  In other words, he was talking about something he actually knew something about.  But, taken as a class, the political pundits can tell us no more about future developments than flipping a coin.

What a shock.