So the folks over at Freakonomics did a Podcast on the Folly of Predictions where they pointed out the obvious. Humans are lousy at Predicting future events (no matter what models and heuristics that are used). In a follow up post More Predictions, From Bad to Worse another very good point was made:
Fact: Because the incentives to predict are quite imperfect — bad predictions are rarely punished — this situation is unlikely to change.
Excellent point! If someone makes predictions in the media, they should then be forced to prove that they are backing up this prediction with either money of their own, or give a punishment that they will take if they are wrong. This could make Stock Predicting a much more interesting game to watch.
Think of it, if I stood up and stated:
I think Internationl BuggyWhip Megabrand (IBwM) is a great investment, and they will beat the market, and to show my commitment to this statement here is a link to prove my purchase of 2000 shares of this fine stock AND if I am wrong (and the stock goes down in the next 3 months), I will personally stand naked on Parliament Hill next to the eternal flame on January 15th for 2 hours, as penance for being wrong.
You would think that either:
- I’ve lost my mind and need to be institutionalized. -or-
- That this is a great stock tip
Would it make me any better at stock prognostication ? No, but it might stop me from making outlandish predictions that I have little (or no) data to support my statements.
The next time someone predicts something, ask them what they are willing to do to back up their claim, then you’ll know how confident they are in their statement.
If anyone goes to the eternal flame on January 15th don’t expect to see me standing there.