Methodology

As a fan of future studies and strategic foresight for business, I took it upon myself to work on predicting the likelihood of world events based on information gathered from the daily news. Outerslant is my hobby. I don’t claim to be a professional forecaster, I just enjoy the hell out of scanning the future.

Below are the methods I use to come to my conclusions, many guidelines are based off those found in “Thinking About the Future” by Andy Hines & Peter Bishop and “Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction” by Philip E. Tetlock & Dan Gardner.

To reach out or leave feedback: joshua@outerslant.com


1. Scanning the News


World events and stories that have an inevitable follow-up that intrigues the public are usually at the top of my priority list to discover.

I’ll scan and pick up on common headlines, read through the stories and see if similar or competing conclusions are being made and then get rolling on the next steps.

2. Identifying Key Information


Once I pick the question I want to answer, I then begin to frame the situation by exploring the current attitudes, environment, rationale and motivations of key players (identify key players).

Looking at the situation from multiple perspectives, both logical and pyscho-logic and merging perspectives. It’s important know my bias and be transparent by answering similar questions:
– Is this wishful thinking?
– Am I creating fiction?
– Am I using “whole brain” process?
– Have I properly used the “wisdom of the crowd”?

Based upon what news articles are saying and matching similar information is how I test facts. The problem with modern news reads is the bias of information either exaggerated or redacted.
When framing an environment, not all information is readily available but enough can be found to come to some close estimate. One method used to make estimates is the Fermi estimation. It’s useful when staring blindly at a problem that you’re trying to figure out.
Set all the facts on a backdrop of what’s still unknown. What’s still necessary to help us come to a close forecast?
Here’s where wishful thinking and bias can invade, but this area can be used to discover things that might be motivating key players. Life is strange, think strange, cast a wide net of ideas and imagine the best and worst scenarios.

3. Turning Points


“The surprise-free future isn’t.”

The longer you look into the future, the more changes you have to take into account. A short time horizon will reveal certain things, and from that you spin out long distant futures from a shorter horizon.

Short term futures are also wide and varied that the spaghetti of long term and short term can get really tangled and messy. It’s easy to get carried away forecasting hundreds of pontential futures, to inevitably end up with nothing concrete.

4. Scoring Predictions


Every prediction starts at 50%. Initially, without details, without framing and scanning the environment the future lives in, it’ll always be a coin flip.

The scoring system takes facts and information from the table in Section 2 and those get scored on a scale ranging from -9 to +9.

Using judgement to score the factors I push the needle the left or right of that 50%. No factor will push the score more than 9 points. If it seems to be a key factor that points to a clear future, then subsequent factors will do the work of revealing the likely forecast. It remains unnecessary to grant any factor too much power.

This helps keep me in check when scoring.

5. Final Analysis


Every factor needs a narrative to finalize your forecast. Creating a short summary of the key factors displacing the score helps me think more definitely about my assumptions and analysis of information.

These pieces are the building blocks for the final forecast analysis. Typically, people just read the headline, but for those that go in depth, it’s nice to have a nice read for them ready to back up your prediction.