The Folly of Expert Predictions

Why are those who should ostensibly know better so frequently and spectacularly wrong? Why are expert predictions basically coin flips?

Previous audiences: Business and technology conferences

Why are experts in so many areas so frequently and spectacularly wrong?

The business landscape is littered with downright laughable predictions from incredibly smart people (aka, experts). Want proof? How about “Apple is already dead” by Nathan Myhrvold of Microsoft in 1996. Whoops. Relying on the advice and predictions of experts is certainly understandable, but is it wise? Isn’t it better to hedge your bets?

In this talk, I draw upon my own extensive professional experiences, reading, and research to answer the following questions and more:

  • Why are experts so utterly wrong so often?
  • What are some of the most egregious predictions in the last century?
  • Are expert predictions improving over time? If not, then why not?
  • What can regular folks and experts do to make better predictions?
  • Even in this era of Big Data, why are expert predictions still tantamount to a coin flip?
  • What is probabilistic thinking? Why should our team, department, and organization consider embracing it?
  • Why should I take management gurus with a 50-lb. bag of salt?

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