It may not surprise you, but a consortium of assiduous, conscientious amateurs can better predict the future of human affairs on Earth — for a fraction of the cost — than the CIA can.
The Good Judgment Project (GJP), an endeavor that uses the Internet to link 3,000 unpaid news followers from various walks of life, has managed to accurately anticipate global trends and events more accurately than state-sanctioned, state-funded intelligence agencies like the CIA.
From a recent Reason report:
Elaine Rich is a pharmacist in her 60s. She and a team of 3,000 other amateur forecasters in the Good Judgment Project (GJP) use Google to keep current on the news. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employs over 20,000 professionals, operates with an annual budget north of $14 billion, and has access to oodles of classified information.
Which of these groups is better at predicting world affairs?
When it comes to “everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics,” reports National Public Radio (NPR), amateurs outperform the pros. Rich, in particular, has “been put on a special team with other superforecasters whose predictions are reportedly 30 percent better than intelligence officers.”
GJP originated as one of several competitors in a government-sponsored “forecasting tournament” that challenges teams to devise their own methods to most effectively predict world events. That competition has been going since 2011, and is currently setting up for its final year.
If you’re interested — and this is by no means an endorsement either of GJP or the competition itself — you can even participate. GJP says having a college degree might be helpful, but it isn’t as important as “a curiosity about how well you make predictions about world events.”