Summary: Time to check the score for the FM website. 2,400 posts, 4.1 million pageviews, 28 thousands comments. Many forecasts, mostly accurate. One very important forecast that was very wrong.
A series about America
- Confession about a failed forecast
- A third try: The first step to reforming America
- The bad news about reform: time is our enemy
Content of this post
- Forecasts about many things
- A diagnosis of America
- For More Information
(1) Forecasts about many things
Consider the predictions of the FM website. The accurate ones appear in the Past Predictions page; the wrong ones appear on the Smackdowns page. (ones with the wheel still spinning appear here). The record is remarkably good, mostly due to careful selection of experts on which to rely. I should spend more time telling you about these successful predictions.
I don’t think much about the hits because the misses seem more important. Perhaps keeping track of failed analyses and obsessing about them accounts in part for the good overall score. It makes me more careful about making predictions, and about their language (riddled with “perhaps”, “probably”, and “guesses”).
But there’s a larger story here. The accurate forecasts concern important subjects, such as outcomes of wars and onset of recessions. But these are less important than the subject of the big wrong call. I said that the Republic was dying — but the speed of the decay exceeds my worst nightmares. My descriptions of the Republic’s strengths were delusionally optimistic. My proposed reforms (listed below) now read like nonsense written by Dr. Pangloss.
Posts on the FM website typically consist of closely reasoned logic, lavishly supported (each takes hours to write). Many of the those posts about America were criticized by people who now look prescient. I replied at the time (and still believe) that many of those people appeared to have deep biases against the USA. Like Oldskpetic.
But the results have come in. They were right; I was wrong.
Diagnosis of America
I have thought about the reason for this large error, and now see that it resulted from violation of my own analytical procedure. How often I stressed the importance of diagnosis! To use a medical metaphor, forecasts of the illness’ course and successful treatment both build upon an accurate diagnosis. Yet I wrote forecasts and recommendations knowing that I lacked an adequate explanation for the causes and nature of the Republic’s illness.
Only slowly has my thinking converged in the past year upon an answer that matches the facts. It explains much that happened since 9-11, and allows forecasts of the future (allowing its validation or disproof).
Unfortunately that answer is so dark as to shake my soul.
Tuesday’s post will discuss this diagnosis, and a possible path to a cure.
For More Information…
…see these FM Reference Pages
(a) Cheerful news:
(b) Less cheerful news:
- America’s Empire
- Politics in America
- Obama, his administration and policies
- America – how can we stop the quiet coup now in progress?
(c) Analysis about ways to reform America; these still look good:
- Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
- Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008 — Part One.
- Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008 — Part Two.
- Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008 — Part Three.
- How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
- The first step on the road to America’s reform, 29 May 2009
- Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…, 16 October 2009
- The first step to reforming America (the final version), 7 December 2009
- The project to reform America: a matter for science, or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010
- How do protests like the TP and OWS differ from effective political action?, 26 October 2011
(d) These solutions now look delusionally optimistic:
- Light the fireworks – the campaign starts today!, 9 March 2010
- Can we reignite the spirit of America?, 14 September 2010
- The sure route to reforming America, 16 November 2010
- Fixing America in five steps, 19 October 2011
- Ask the mineshaft: how to make America angry and so awaken from our stupor, 11 March 2012