Superforecasters Weigh In: To Forecast the First 100 Days, What Should You Be Reading?

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One of our most frequently asked questions on Good Judgment Open (GJO) is: “What are the Superforecasters thinking, and reading about this topic?”

In The First 100 Days, a forecasting challenge co-sponsored by GJO and the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, members of the public are invited to enter their predictions on the Trump Administration’s “First 100 Days” – the time in which a president is supposed to be particularly productive, because of a supposed honeymoon period with Congress and the public.

In The First 100 Days, we’re asking you to forecast questions including:

* Before 30 April 2017, will the U.S. give notice of intent to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

* Before 30 April 2017, will the U.S. suspend immigration from any country designated as a state sponsor of terrorism or a terrorist safe haven?

* Before 30 April 2017, will the U.S. provide notice of intent to withdraw from NAFTA?

In the spirit of Superforecasting, and to provide a behind-the-scenes look at how our Superforecasters think, we asked them: “What would you read if forecasting the first 100 days?”

Here’s what they had to say.

Superforecasters Read for Variety.

A common theme in Superforecaster reading material was seeking variety in the sources.

“Drudge, Breitbart, Salon, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, et al. are mosaics in a larger mosaic. They are all pieces of a grand puzzle.”

“There is no one type of source for me. It’s a large tapestry where holes of different sizes are being created and repaired at different times and at different paces by different people with different visions. The process is unending, relentless, and fluid. Stepping back to watch the process gives one an advantage … at least that’s what I tell myself.”

Some of the most commonly cited sources include:

Academic and institutional sources:
Reports from the IMF, OECD, RAND, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, Strategic Studies Institute, Chatham House, World Bank, Pew Research Center, Freedom House, Nuclear Threat Initiative.

News Sources:
The Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Apple News Aggregator, Bloomberg.

US Government (quasi government) Feeds:
State Department Briefs, Federal Reserve Reports, Bureau of Labor and Statistics etc.

General political coverage:
WaPo’s Trump promise tracker, McClatchy, Current Affairs.

Differing Views on Partisan Sources.

There were mixed views on sources with perceived partisan leanings, such as The Drudge Report. This divergence is a natural result of having different forecasters come to the table with different views. One strength of having Superforecasters work together in teams when they make forecasts is that they bring differing opinions.

In favor of following partisan sources:

“Analyzing the stories that the site covered during the campaign and, just as importantly, didn’t cover, distilled for me how Trump and Clinton were doing on the trail …. Tensions between Congressional GOP leadership and the Trump Administration will be uniquely laid bare by what’s linked on Drudge and what isn’t, particularly on immigration …. Yes, the site has a slant, but the slant is clearly known to anybody paying attention. I would contend that the dimensions of this slant are far more clearly defined than they are for most any other media outlet that garners any attention. And yes, the existence of those slants is universal …. Moreover, I have a hunch that Drudge will break more than one story of significant political consequence in the first hundred days of Trump’s tenure.”

“Often not for facts, but for ‘tone’, ‘directionality’ and ‘agenda.’”

Against following partisan sources:

“For myself, I would actually avoid things like the Drudge Report or Breitbart, as well as Trump’s twitter account …I think it makes sense to focus on political science fundamentals.”

Noted sources with partisan leanings:
New Yorker, Mother Jones, Atlantic, Breitbart, The Nation, The National Review, The Heritage Foundation, Drudge.

Superforecasters Do Not Heavily Rely on Social Media.

Few Superforecasters mentioned looking at social media as an information source, other than for background information or to follow the twitter feeds of specific bloggers:

“It’s interesting to see what people in different locations from different backgrounds post. How they respond and what they respond to are interesting as well. What they are not posting (in aggregate) is interesting when compared to the news cycle.”

Some of the blogs and Twitter feeds noted include:

Tim Duy’s blog and Twitter.
Menzie Chinn and James Hamilton at Econbrowser.
• Brad Setser’s blog and Twitter.
• Jay Rosen’s blog and Twitter – he provides interesting discussion of how the press reports generally but with a current focus on politics and Trump.
David Dayen’s Twitter (expect good coverage of individual mandate).

The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Reform”:

“Trump will probably lean heavily on The Heritage Foundation for baseline policy advice.”

Podcast Recommendations from the Superforecasters.

Goldman Sachs.
Peterson Perspectives.
The President’s Inbox from Council on Foreign Relations.
Channeling Brussels.
War on the Rocks.
Russian Roulette.
CSIS podcast.
War College.
Harvard Kennedy School Policycast.
Non Prophets (produced independently by three Good Judgment Inc Superforecasters.)

Finally, as a bonus to this reading list … Advice from a Superforecaster on Seeking Sources.

1. Trust your own idiosyncratic life learnings, including those you are currently learning – you have made it so far so must be doing something right – Keep it up!!

2. You are probably a fox – you will never know, in advance, what trail will lead to a fresh scent. Don’t try to become a subject matter expert on everything, range far and wide for clues or wisps of info. Use your own good judgment, it has served you well.

3. Above all enjoy the chase and challenge!

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One thought on “Superforecasters Weigh In: To Forecast the First 100 Days, What Should You Be Reading?

  1. This advice is good even for people who wish to be well informed voters. When I am at the gym on a cardio machine (boring!), I like to keep flipping my attention from Fox , to CNN, to MSNBC. It is fun, and funny to watch them reporting the same story, almost simultaneously. Also helpful for the reasons you list here.

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