Spicaresque:

A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"THE PREDICTIONEER'S GAME" BY BRUCE BUENO DE MESQUITA



I saw this guy on the Daily Show, hyping his book and what he had to say really floored me specifically because he was quantifying things which were qualitative, or as I saw it, giving numerical value to menus of choice. I thought it might be an interesting way to lead one's life, weighing the good and the bad methodically. This guy has been doing it for the State Department and ginormous corporations for eons. Bruce is the Julius Silver Professor of Politics at NYU and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. So, let's just say that he is neither impressed with credentials or in the mood to flatter. I believe you could say that he operates on one priniciple: people act out of brazen self interest. And he writes, if you can map out or count the permutation of choices that that person has then you can pretty much predict what that person is going to do. By now you are saying what Bruce would like you to say, "Sure, people can fill in numbers to the questions, but it's just guesswork. Ask two experts the same question and you'll get two different answers. Guess what--that's not true" (54). Well, what do you mean Bruce? Well, "the CIA has checked out the risk that different experts give greatly different answers leading to greatly different predictions. They found little variation in the predictive results from the sort of modeling I do, even when the people asked had dramatically different access to information. Academic experts, for instance, generally do not not know the classified information that intelligence analysts have access to. Yet both groups tend to provide data so similar, wherever it's from..." (54)Try that one on for size...