Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 1

The

Right Attitude for making Better Predictions: Be Foxy


While the experts performance was poor in the aggregate, however, Tetlock found that some had done better than others. On the losing side were those experts whose predictions were cited most frequently in the media. The more interviews that an expert had done with the press, Tetlock found, the worse his predictions tended to be. Another subgroup of experts had done relatively well, however, Tetlock, with his training as a psychologist, had been interested in the experts cognitive styles how they thought about the world. So he administered some questions lifted from personality tests to all the experts. On the basis of their responses to these questions, Tetlock was able to classify his experts along a spectrum between what he called hedgehogs and foxes. The reference to hedgehogs and foxes comes from the title of an Isaiah Berlin essay on the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy The Hedgehog and the Fox. Berlin had in turn borrowed his title from a passage attributed to the Greek poet Archilochus: The fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Unless you are a fan of Tolstoy or of flowery prose youll have no particular reason to read Berlins essay. But the basic idea is that writers and thinkers can be divided into two broad categories: Hedgehogs are type A personalities who believe in Big Ideas in governing principles about the world that behave as thought they were physical laws and undergird virtually every interaction in society. Think Karl Marx and class struggle, or Sigmund Freud and the unconscious. Or Malcolm Gladwell and the tipping point. Foxes, on the other hand, are scrappy creatures who believe in a plethora of little ideas and in taking a multitude of approaches to a problem. They tend to be more tolerant of nuance, uncertainty, complexity and dissenting opinion. If hedgehogs are hunters, always looking out for the big kill, then foxes are gatherers. Foxes, Tetlock found, are considerably better at forecasting that hedgehogs. They had come closer to the mark on the Soviet Union, for instance. Rather than seeing the USSR in highly ideological terms as an intrinsically evil empire, or as a relatively successful (or even admirable) example of a Marxist economic system they instead saw it for what it was: an increasingly dysfunctional nation that was in danger of coming apart at the seams. Whereas the hedgehogs forecasts were barely any better than random chance, the foxes demonstrated predictive skill. Silver, Nate. The Signal and The Noise Why so many Predictions Fail but some dont. The Penguin Press, New York, 2012. Pages 53 & 54.