Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Expert Political Judgment

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Expert Political Judgment

How Good is It? How Can We Know?

Princeton UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Can you trust expert forecasting – no, not really, but it is human nature to want to know the unknowable future.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Innovative
  • Scientific


If you want to find out what makes a forecaster a real expert or a lucky guesser, this book explains the complicated set of necessary talents. Author Philip E. Tetlock is a researcher and political psychologist. He tracks a wide academic path into psychological investigations about predicting the future - in business, politics or other arenas - and the implications of its results. He finds some surprises, especially in the study of objectivity and how people think. He explains psychological experiments on forecasting, and uses them as a trail through tangles of complex research. As you climb, enjoy the occasional clearings where some great ideas (such as Amos Twersky’s "Support Theory") come to light. getAbstract finds Tetlock’s insights worth the journey. Despite its sometimes dense thickets, this book is necessary for people who want to understand the role of self-described "expert" prognosticators. If you wonder why the predictions of political, media and sports forecasters often are not worth heeding, Tetlock shows you how to distill the best from the rest. We recommend this book to journalists, political scientists and managers or executives who rely on "expert" opinions or futuristic scenarios.


Who’s the Expert?

People are accustomed to expert opinions. No matter what the topic, an expert is available - often via the media - to explain evolving events and even predict their outcome. What standards can you use to judge if one expert on politics, society or business is better than another? This problem is even more enigmatic when applied to decisions that do not have yes-or-no answers.

Generally, political arguments are harder to judge than scientific debates because they are based on a particular way of seeing the world. Thus, the debaters have built-in defenses and their own way of explaining history. This is most evident when experts argue about major historical events, such as World War II, the Vietnam War and, most recently, Iraq. For example, they might weigh the decisions behind major events, such as President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb. You can use two criteria to determine if political pundits have good judgment:

  1. How well do their public statements correspond to actual reality?
  2. Do their beliefs incorporate new evidence and changing events?

You can assess experts’ opinions in light...

About the Author

Philip E. Tetlock is a professor of leadership at the University of California, Berkeley. His previous books include Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author

Related Channels