Monday, January 02, 2017

a bad year for prognosticators

Here's a juicy blockquote that I saw over at Instapundit:

2016! Was there ever such a year for making donkeys out of seers? A whole column could be filled with nothing but the names of sages and savants, supposedly adept in the ways of politics, who confidently assured everyone that Donald J. Trump couldn’t possibly win the Republican presidential nomination, let alone be elected president of the United States.

“If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong,” wrote Larry Sabato, whose highly regarded website at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is called Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Peering into his crystal ball on Nov. 7, he saw Hillary Clinton poised to harvest 322 votes in the Electoral College, handily defeating Trump in the next day’s election.

Countless experts made similar predictions. “GOP insiders: Trump can’t win,” read a Politico headline last summer. Atop the story was the cocksure analysis of one of those insiders that nothing could keep Trump from losing short of “video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of ‘Death to America.’ ” Pollsters, politicians, and even the incumbent POTUS announced with perfect certitude that a Trump victory was off the table. Indeed, prophesied Damon Linker, senior correspondent at The Week, not only would Trump lose, he would “lose in the biggest landslide in modern American history.”

By no means was it only in the realm of US presidential politics that experts blew it.

At Fox Sports, Sam Gardner insisted on Opening Day that the Chicago Cubs “weren’t ready to make the leap” to the World Series. He was still insisting six months later that the Cubs’ World Series drought would persist.

Climate experts predicted that in the summer of 2016, for the first time in 100,000 years, the Arctic Ocean would be essentially ice-free. Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, said the decline in sea ice was unstoppable. But when satellite images for September were released, they showed ice levels greater than they were in 2012.

Fortune magazine played up the doomsaying of Wall Street strategist Albert Edwards, who warned that 2016 would bring the biggest stock market crash in a generation. “The illusion of prosperity is shattered as boom now turns to bust,” Edwards wrote in January, amid a market swoon. Bust? By year’s end, the Dow was flirting with an all-time record high.

British experts of every description made the case for keeping the United Kingdom inside the European Union, and pollsters were sure Brexit would go down to defeat. But on the day of the election, voters tore up the script, handing the “Leave” campaign a victory margin of more than a million votes. Michael Gove, the UK’s justice minister and a leading Brexiteer, had been laughed at when he contended: “People in this country have had enough of experts.” Maybe the experts should have listened.

Maybe all of us should be more skeptical when experts are telling us what to think.

Two takeaways from the above:

1. 2016 wasn't all bad.
2. There's a lot of bullshit out there.

I learned some huge lessons, last year, about media brainwashing, and I no longer rely on the usual sources for news and analysis. 2017 has already begun with the wild-eyed Washington Post trying to accuse Russia of attempting some sort of hack in Vermont. That, too, turned out to be nonsense. "Fake news," indeed. And as Ed Driscoll writes regarding fake news:


When your team includes Brian Williams, Dan Rather, Al Sharpton, Eason Jordan, Jayson Blair, Katie Couric, the JournoList, and a whole squadron of Middle Eastern fauxtographers and the Pallywood propaganda assembly line, it takes a fair amount of chutzpah to accuse the other side of “fake news” – though think of the MSM as Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

Wiry YouTube guru Styxhexenhammer666 would include Fox News and its denizens in the above list, which I think is only fair. It's not merely "the liberal media" but the entire media that shovel a twisted travesty of reality down our gullets.

Let's all be on our guard and not allow ourselves to be hoodwinked again. Let's dig around for better sources. Let's stay away from overly biased "professional" media whose job is more to entertain (by which I really mean, "to scare the masses and make everyone into everyone else's enemy") than to inform.

1 comment:

TheBigHenry said...

Ordinary people who are not themselves newsgatherers by profession (but I repeat myself) rely on news sources produced by others. Fortunately, we now have the WWW which offers more sources than can be perused by the world's greatest speed reader. You have to choose your limited number of sources wisely, of course. By all means, stay away from all the disreputable (and deplorable) usual suspects, namely the MSM charlatans.

But it doesn't end there. You have to cogitate about what you have read. Does it make sense? You have to develop a personal bullshit meter. If it sounds too good to be true ...

After all is said and done, you still can't predict the future with confidence, and that goes for tomorrow. Otherwise, why aren't you beating the market on a regular basis? No, you're not.

I firmly believe that Trump's victory over HRC was a modern-day miracle. HRC would have been a catastrophe for the entire world. She is, without a doubt in my mind, the most vindictive person I have ever seen in politics. And, amazingly, 50 million voters were prepared to give her the power to launch nuclear weapons because she got out of the wrong side of her bed one day and had a hissy fit.