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Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail - and Why We Believe Them Anyway Hardcover – Oct 12 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; First Edition edition (Oct. 12 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771035195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771035197
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #135,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ATC123 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 9 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As for the author's book on risk, this book is clear, easy to read and shows why the expert predictions that we see every night on the news, should be taken with a grain of salt. Likewise the grand statements by other public figures are also likely to be based in some measure on defective information that is the result of no one taking the time to logically apply reasoning. This book should be mandatory reading for every journalist, politician and public "expert".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Captain Slog on Nov. 16 2010
Format: Hardcover
This should be required reading for everyone, experts included, who think they are qualified to predict the future. This book will act like a cold shower for those people. For the rest of us it is a fascinating examination of the disease of certainty. I now save newspaper headlines that make sweeping predictions (Climate Armageddon's-a-comin'). If I may be so bold as to make a prediction: in a few years time we will look at those headlines and shake our heads that we could have been so certain and so wrong.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Blakey on Nov. 2 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dan Gardner eloquently illustrates that Socrates was correct in saying the wise know what they don't know but that most people will ignore the wise if provided a confident sounding alternative.

Gardner provides an up to date summary of research in psychology and many, many well documented examples of both the failings of over confidence and the human propensity to fall for the confident story, especially ones own.

An excellent read and resource for anyone needing reminding of the madness of crowds or a counter to over confident forecasters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 25 2011
Format: Hardcover
'Future Babble' documents the futility of prediction, which competes with our internal drive to know our destiny. This would be a very short book considering how easy it is to provide examples of failed futurists, however, Mr. Gardner goes one step further. He provides evidence for our need to be sure in a world that's become ever more connected and therefore ever more difficult to understand. There are other books on this topic, 'Black Swan' being one of the best, however 'Future Babble' does offer it's own take on how we can be so easily fooled into believing the nonsense presented to us in the guise of a science that can prophesy the future. And we believe it. We need to know and the more confident the speaker, the more likely we are to believe him of her even though they are sure to talking absolute nonsense. We are more likely to believe a confident voice over the reasoned speculation of an educated commentator. It's a crazy irrational side to our species that we are all too susceptible to and Dan Gardner argues that it is incumbent that we be aware of.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Wiseman on July 1 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pundits who make sweeping predictions about the future are almost sure to be wrong, Gardner reports in this fascinating book. But you can't really blame them. Their brains are hard-wired to exaggerate threats, extend current trends in a straight line into the indefinite future and reject information that contradicts their existing beliefs. Perhaps even worse, we -- the pundits' audience -- are programmed to demand certainty where there is none. We forget old predictions that were proven wrong and glom onto new ones with the eagerness of children. We believe forecasters who make the boldest and most confident predictions even though they're the least reliable guides to the future. So what are we to do? Gardner nudges us toward a more realistic way to prepare for a future we can't predict. Find and use the best information but acknowledge the limitations on what we know and be prepared to revise our outlook when new evidence comes in. In short: be foxes who know many things, not hedge hogs who know one big thing, in the metaphor popularized by Isaiah Berlin. This is a good book, filled with clear explanations of the imperfect way we process information. Gardner also offers lots of good examples of failed prophets who refuse to own up to their errors. One of my favorites involves some true believers who predicted the end of the world on a very specific date and were undaunted even when it did not happen.
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