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3 Tactics Ordinary Citizens Used To Out Predict CIA Experts

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In the intelligence community, it’s crucial to be able to predict future events. The ability for the CIA and its intelligence counterparts to be able to forecast world events based on limited information is what gives us advantages on the international stage.

In a recent interview on The Science of Success Podcast, New York Times best-selling author Dan Gardner shares the incredible story of how a group of citizen volunteers led by Philip Tetlock, changed the way our intelligence communities’ approach analyzing and forecasting future political events.

It all started in 2011. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) decided it was time to evaluate and improve on how The United States’ 16 intelligence agencies forecast future events. The idea was to analyze these agencies past predictions and find ways to learn from previous mistakes.

The intelligence community actually spends a lot of its time not just spying, but also analyzing information to try and figure out what’s going to happen next. Will Russia try to seize the Crimea? They’ll try to make forecasts. On all parts of geopolitical events, including economic events like what’s going to happen at the Chinese economy in the fourth quarter, that sort of thing.”

So in order to gain perspective the intelligence community agreed to fund a number of private researches to assemble teams of unpaid volunteers to take their best shot at it. “You set up a team to make forecasts, and we’ll ask questions, and they’ll be the real world questions that we have to answer all the time.” Gardner explains.

Ultimately they came up with five university based research teams for this tournament. One of which was headed up by Gardner’s co-author, Philip Tetlock. They decided to name their team The Good Judgment Project. The Project successfully recruited thousands of volunteers. The ODNI set several benchmarks that all of the researchers thought we’re much too ambitious. “Prior to beginning the project, looking at these benchmarks, nobody could do this!”

The results were beyond surprising. Certain volunteers blew away each benchmark and predicted future events with incredible accuracy. “The Good Judgment Project won hands down. They found that a certain group of these volunteers were consistently good at forecasting these events. Anyone can get lucky once, twice, maybe three times. These volunteers however were consistent, and that is key.”

These “Superforecasters” were normal people, with average IQ scores, no previous intelligence community experience, and zero access to classified information. Each of these volunteers had a common interest in world events and stayed up to date on their world politics, but had nothing else you or I couldn’t find ourselves on Google. Yet they were making predictions that economists said should have been impossible.

So how did they do it? Dan points out three things the researchers from The Good Judgment Project found these volunteers had in common.

1. Unpack Your Problems

Many of us look at a problem as one thing. We are presented with the issue, we look it over, stroke our chins, and then try to solve. However, looking at the problem or question as one big issue will lead to terrible predictions.

What they do is that they methodically unpack the question. They take a big question, and they unpack it, and make a whole series of smaller questions, and then they unpack those and they make a series of smaller questions, and they methodically examine them.”

You’re taking one complex problem, breaking it down into its smaller, simpler components. Allowing you to answer these simpler questions and ultimately piece them back together to create an extremely accurate and effective answer to a larger problem.

“If you’re overwhelmed by the size of a problem, break it down into smaller pieces.” – Chuck Close

2. Craving Cognition

Each of these “superforecasters” had a desire to be intellectually challenged and learn. “These are people who like to learn, they’re constantly picking up bits and pieces of information, and no surprise, when you spend a lot of time picking up this sort of information, eventually you will have quite a number of dots in your intellectual arsenal for you to connect.”

Also, each volunteer enjoyed pushing himself or herself mentally. “They’re the kinds of people who do puzzles for fun and the harder the puzzle is, the more fun it is,” explains Gardner.

So next time you decide to do some recreational problem solving whether it be a puzzle or mental game, crank the difficulty up a little bit and give your brain a challenge.

3. It’s All About Your Mindset

Each “superforecaster” volunteer was extremely open to hearing other’s opinions. “This means okay, I’ve got my perspective but I want to hear your perspective. I want to hear somebody else’s perspective. I want to hear different ways of thinking about this problem.”

By listening to as many other opinions as possible, these volunteers were able to then synthesize ideas from multiple sources and viewpoints and create the most well rounded and analyzed prediction possible.

It’s easy to want to take all the credit, to finish first, and be the star of the show. We all have the impulse to think we’ve done our due diligence and our viewpoint is the right one. It’s only through keeping an open mind to other viewpoints and outside information that we can truly begin to consistently make better predictions and decisions.  

“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli

The Good Judgment Project is still being conducted to this day and is open for volunteers. To learn more about the project, forecasting tactics, and Dan’s book Superforecasting, listen to his full hour interview on The Science of Success Podcast.

Which one of these three tactics do you use most? Please leave your thoughts below!

Matt Bodnar, named a “Rising Restaurateur Star” by the National Restaurant Association and a “Strategy Pro” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, is a partner at an early stage investment firm Fresh Hospitality where he focuses on deal making and strategy. Bodnar is also the creator and host of "The Science of Success" a #1 New & Noteworthy podcast, with more than 1 Million+ downloads, focused on improving decision-making, understanding psychology, and sharing insights from experts. Bodnar previously worked as an import/export consultant in Nanjing, China and spent several years at Goldman Sachs before returning to his family roots in the hospitality space.

Life

How to Write a Personal Destiny Statement in 3 Steps

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We all have a God-given destiny to fulfill that we were each born with. I personally believe it is buried deep down within us. The number one secret to success is to let it emerge out of you and release it to the world. What is my destiny you may ask? It is the thing you would regret not doing before leaving Planet Earth. (more…)

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Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Life

Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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