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Re: Brin: predictions

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  • The Fool
    ... Possibly. Or is it that some people are wrong more often than other people? The people who tend to be right have this habit of also tending to be
    Message 1 of 9 , Nov 1, 2005
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      > From: David Brin <dbrin@...>
      >
      >
      > > Holy incestuous Feedback Batman!
      > >
      > > It'll never work. Heisenberg had it right.
      >
      >
      > SO you are saying that nobody is right more often than
      > other people?

      Possibly. Or is it that some people are wrong more often than other
      people? The people who tend to be right have this habit of also
      tending to be ignored. The people who tend to be wrong tend to not be
      ignored.

      >
      > Or that some people do not deserve more credibility
      > than others, for being right more often? Hm. Unique.

      I was mostly reffering to the bit from the first paragraph about the
      markets. But it's similar. You can't know you're right until after
      the fact, in which case you can't predict who will be right without
      effecting positively or negatively whether they will be right. All of
      society is one big nested group of nested feedback cycles (a human is
      really just a system of feedback systems).

      It reminds me of this one episode of Logans Run where this guy invents
      time travel and comes to the future, but the future is that dystopia of
      the Logans Run Movie / Tv Series. So he goes back in time in order to
      try and prevent that future dystopia from happening. In the end it
      turns out that his very going back to try prevent it was what caused it
      to happen.

      But I digress, I was mostly reffering to the market bit.
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    • The Fool
      ... But it is also true that the attention some people get affect whether what they say happens or not. Incestuous feedback. So if you start pegging person
      Message 2 of 9 , Nov 1, 2005
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        > From: David Brin <dbrin@...>
        >
        > I agree that most market computer models wind up
        > screwing themselves because the market has an immune
        > reaction, adapting to one participant's success.
        >
        > Still, some people are right a LOT more than others.

        But it is also true that the attention some people get affect whether
        what they say happens or not. Incestuous feedback. So if you start
        pegging person A of being slightly more right than offen than people
        will start treating A's thoughts as if they should be right which leads
        straight to him being slightly more right more often. Wash and repeat.

        But what if Person A's ideas are flawed or bad in some way and he
        starts getting treated as if his ideas are genius? Like say...Marx.
        Or the people who invented that Yeshua of Nazereth character?

        > Past performance does not predict future success. But
        > it is relevant to competance.

        I think this is incorrect, hence my counterexamples above. I think
        competence can be unrelated.

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      • David Brin
        I agree that most market computer models wind up screwing themselves because the market has an immune reaction, adapting to one participant s success. Still,
        Message 3 of 9 , Nov 1, 2005
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          I agree that most market computer models wind up
          screwing themselves because the market has an immune
          reaction, adapting to one participant's success.

          Still, some people are right a LOT more than others.
          Past performance does not predict future success. But
          it is relevant to competance.
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        • Dan Minette
          ... From: David Brin To: Killer Bs Discussion Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 3:53 PM Subject: Re: Brin:
          Message 4 of 9 , Nov 3, 2005
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "David Brin" <dbrin@...>
            To: "Killer Bs Discussion" <brin-l@...>
            Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 3:53 PM
            Subject: Re: Brin: predictions


            >
            > > Holy incestuous Feedback Batman!
            > >
            > > It'll never work. Heisenberg had it right.
            >
            >
            > SO you are saying that nobody is right more often than
            > other people?
            >
            > Or that some people do not deserve more credibility
            > than others, for being right more often? Hm. Unique.

            I think that the problem with such a technique is properly identifying the
            statistics associated with being right n times out of m. Let me give two
            examples that frame the problem.

            1) Let us consider a single elimination tournament based on coin flipping.
            Person 1 flips a coin. If person 2 matches the flip, they win; otherwise
            person 1 wins. If there 2^16 people entered in the tournament, there will
            be one person who won 16 times in a row. This person, with a perfect
            score, is no more likely to win the next coin flip game than anyone else.

            A real life situation that almost matches this is the performance of
            various investment funds. There are funds that boast of being better than
            the average of all other funds for 9 years out of the last 10. Yet, when
            funds like these are examined, they tend to have no more chance of being
            above the average for the 11th to 15th year than any of the other funds.
            It's akin to there being a 50-50 chance that a given physician was in the
            bottom half of his/her class at medical school. Past performance is, when
            considering funds in this manner, rarely an indicator of future
            performance.

            There are exceptions to this rule, of course, a very good case for Buffet
            can be made: that he really does know more about investing than most fund
            managers. His performance is longer term, and more statistically
            significant.

            2) Richard Feynman is the classic example that I have for the other end of
            the spectrum. As with many areas of physics, Dr. Feynman made a rough
            guess predicting the rapidity distribution of pions in high energy
            interactions. Feynman scaling was found to be right, to the order of
            magnitude that he predicted this.

            As you know, but many on the list do not, he made many intuitive
            predictions, such as this, after he was a high profile physicist. If you
            look at the predictions made by physicists with a high profile, you will
            see his stand out. The percentage of times he "guessed right" was near
            legendary when I went to school. There was a rule of thumb that a Feynman
            guess was worth more than careful computation by nearly anyone else.

            My gut feeling is that an open prediction registry will be closer to the
            funds manager case than the Feynman case. I think a critical factor is
            limiting the number of potential candidates for being right. There are not
            that many physicists who have already done stand-out work. Thus, we do not
            have enough predictions to have a track record like Feynman emerge from
            mere chance.

            In economics, the clear example is Greenspan. List member and fairly well
            known economist, Brad DeLong, has noted how often Greenspan has guessed
            right when he himself has guessed wrong. He talked about cloning Greenspan
            because he has an uncanny ability to "guess right".

            Since there is only one chairman of the Fed. Reserve Board at any one time,
            this track record cannot be explained by statistics alone. There has to be
            some skill that Greenspan has that Brad does not. Brad acknowledges the
            skill, but cannot put his finger on exactly what it is.

            The common denominator that I see between Greenspan and Feynman is that
            they demonstrated, apart from their intuitive ability, above average skill
            in the field before many their guesses went on record. This culling
            significantly lowers the possibility that such a track record is due to
            chance alone. This allows those with unique intuition to rise above the
            background of lucky guessers.

            The final factor that I wish to consider is what I'd call the "astrology"
            factor. If you look at general predictions of astrology for most people,
            there will almost always be a manner in which the predictions were right.
            The reason for this is not due to a real power of the planets over our
            lives, of course, but the real power of people to match vague predictions
            to what actually happened and thus see the predictions validated. In the
            case of Feynman and Greenspan, there were hard numbers that their
            predictions can be matched against. I believe that aspects of science
            fiction novels that are later matched to reality can suffer from the same
            "20-20 hindsight" problem. The parts of the prediction that match are
            focused upon, and the differences are minimized. Thus, the predictions
            seem more accurate than they really were.

            So, while I am intrigued by the idea of a predictions registry, I think
            that there are two factors that must be considered before such a registry
            could really be useful.

            1) A means of lowering the probability that good looking track records will
            emerge from chance alone.
            2) A means of setting firm criteria for determining sucess (which of course
            ties into 1).

            Dan M.

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          • The Fool
            ... astrology ... people, ... right. ... our ... predictions ... the ... science ... same ... are ... predictions ... AKA Subjective Validation, Confirmation
            Message 5 of 9 , Nov 3, 2005
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              > From: Dan Minette <dsummersminet@...>
              >
              > From: "David Brin" <dbrin@...>
              >
              > >
              > > > Holy incestuous Feedback Batman!
              > > >
              > > > It'll never work. Heisenberg had it right.
              > >
              > >
              > > SO you are saying that nobody is right more often than
              > > other people?
              > >
              > > Or that some people do not deserve more credibility
              > > than others, for being right more often? Hm. Unique.
              >
              >
              > The final factor that I wish to consider is what I'd call the
              "astrology"
              > factor. If you look at general predictions of astrology for most
              people,
              > there will almost always be a manner in which the predictions were
              right.
              > The reason for this is not due to a real power of the planets over
              our
              > lives, of course, but the real power of people to match vague
              predictions
              > to what actually happened and thus see the predictions validated. In
              the
              > case of Feynman and Greenspan, there were hard numbers that their
              > predictions can be matched against. I believe that aspects of
              science
              > fiction novels that are later matched to reality can suffer from the
              same
              > "20-20 hindsight" problem. The parts of the prediction that match
              are
              > focused upon, and the differences are minimized. Thus, the
              predictions
              > seem more accurate than they really were.

              AKA Subjective Validation, Confirmation Bias, and the Forer Effect:

              <<http://skepdic.com/forer.html>>

              <<http://skepdic.com/confirmbias.html>>

              <<http://skepdic.com/subjectivevalidation.html>>

              And of course the for lack of better term the "nodding" effect:
              <<http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001505.html>>
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            • Nick Arnett
              Perhaps a better question is, are some *communities* right more often than most? ... -- Nick Arnett narnett@mccmedia.com Messages: 408-904-7198
              Message 6 of 9 , Nov 3, 2005
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                Perhaps a better question is, are some *communities* right more often than
                most?

                On 11/1/05, David Brin <dbrin@...> wrote:
                >
                > I agree that most market computer models wind up
                > screwing themselves because the market has an immune
                > reaction, adapting to one participant's success.
                >
                > Still, some people are right a LOT more than others.
                > Past performance does not predict future success. But
                > it is relevant to competance.
                > _______________________________________________
                > http://www.mccmedia.com/mailman/listinfo/brin-l
                >



                --
                Nick Arnett
                narnett@...
                Messages: 408-904-7198
                _______________________________________________
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