The evaluation of our 2012 predictions’ sample underlines notably a widespread conventional view of national security, novel issues being ignored; a relative inability to assess timing whilst our understanding of issues fares relatively well; the existence of major biases, notably regarding China, Russia, and the U.S; the difficulty of prediction for novel issues and old issues in new context.
This post will present the experiment – assessing a sample of open source predictions for the year 2012 – address the methodological problems encountered while creating the evaluation itself, and underline the lessons learned. The second part (forthcoming) will discuss results.
This second article on The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb emphasises some of the author’s points that are crucial for foresight and warning. Likewise, they are necessary for any work dealing with the future and its anticipation, from risk management to horizon scanning through early warning.
The methodology of SF&W and risk management allows addressing these points. They should become rules and principles all analysts follow. Indeed, without paying attention to them, good analysis is impossible. The first article on The Black Swan can be accessed here.
(Notably pp.190-200) Considering uncertainty, but also our imperfect condition of human beings, the complexity of the social world, feedbacks, our more than insufficient knowledge and understanding, we must ….
Since Nassim Nicholas Taleb published his bestseller The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable back in 2007, “Black Swans” and “Black Swans events” have become part of everyday language.
They are used as a catchphrase to mean two different things. First, as was the case in the Brookings interesting interactive “briefing book” Big Bets and Black Swans: Foreign Policy Challenges for President Obama’s Second Term, “black swans” represent high impact, low probability events, what is also known as wild cards.[i]
Second, “black swans” refer to events that could absolutely not be predicted, as, for example for the Economist in ”The prediction games: Our winners and losers from last year’s edition”. Unfortunately, in this case, the label “black swans” excuses foresight errors. It tends to stop explanations and evaluation. Similarly, some will make statements along the line of “oh, but there is no point to do any foresight (or futures work or forecast), did you not read Taleb’s Black Swan? One cannot predict or foresee anything.”
This is a rather bold statement, especially when one seeks to anticipate uncertainty and to foresee and warn. We thus need to explore the unpredictability claim further.
Second part of the list of open sources predictions for 2013 related to conventional and unconventional national security.
Open sources predictions for 2013 published on the web related to conventional and unconventional national security and as foreword a few methodological posts on predictions and forecasts.
A database of open source 2012 predictions, and graph on selected issues.
The Economist shows the lead in a courageous yet hardly ever done exercise: going back to our own foresight and assess, in the light of the present, what was right and what was wrong. It provides us with an example of how such lessons learned could be endeavoured, underlines questions that should be asked and key challenges for anticipation, and exemplifies how biases can derail foresight.
2012 predictions (2) ZeroHedge, Globalization, The Decade Ahead, And Asymmetric Returns, 12/26/2011 ZeroHedge, Jim Rogers 2012 Outlook: Pessimism With Scattered Crises, 12/26/2011 Derek Abma on 2012 predictions by Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets, “Canada to avoid recession next year despite Europe,” The Vancouver Sun, Financial Post, December 26, 2011 Ryan Mauro, Top 12 Threats to Watch in 2012, Family Security Matters, December 27, 2011 Tony Karon, “If 2011 Was a Turbulent Year for Obama’s Foreign Policy, 2012 Looks Set to Be Worse,” (Survey of the top ten global crisis issues facing the U.S. in the new year), Time.com Global Spin, December 27, 2011. Moneycontrol bureau, “Keep your coats on! It’s going to be a stormy 2012,” (summary of financial and eco …
2012 predictions for conventional and unconventional national security Every year, a host of actors, from newspapers to magazines, from think tanks to futurists and other experts, publish predictions at the dawn of every New Year. The aim here is to create a repository of all the predictions done for 2012 that are directly or indirectly related to national security, as primary material for all those who would like later on to sort them, analyse them and finally test them. The section will be populated as forecasts and webpages are published and identified. You are most welcome to post a link to 2012 predictions you found or did in the comments. Please mention the origin, date, title and hyperlink. And to start with: The …