What makes a good forecaster, be it horse racing, political predictions, social movements or perhaps currency fluctuations ?. We probably all have an opinion on this one. Some would say intelligence, maybe IQ, they would be wrong. Being smart is no disadvantage but it is not the main driver behind the super forecasters out there. Perhaps it’s the men and women on TV ?. Almost certainly not, they are selected on the basis of how much air time they can accurately consume. The book I have almost finished attempts to shine a more objective light on what makes people good forecasters and seeks out those in the general public that fall into the category. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction.

The people in charge of this project simply advertised for volunteers (actually they got some gift vouchers at the end of the year) to become subjects in an experiment designed to find out who could become accurate forecasters and most important why they had such traits. Once the individuals had been tested before selection they were assigned periodically questions such as will the left or right party win the next Honduras election ?. What are the chances of Italy leaving the EU or defaulting on their debt. Members had to assign confidence levels to their answers and were allowed as time progressed to update their answers. Interestingly people who were diligent at updating tended to be the best forecasters when their objectively based scores were compiled.

It is a must read for anyone involved in forecasting and one of the most interesting points for me was when after a year and before they knew the ranking of forecasters, the people running the experiment decided to run groups. They randomly compiled groups to operate even thought they knew the dangers of group think and group fallout. Despite this fear the groups performed better than individuals and later when they compiled groups of super forecasters they too performed better than individual super forecasters, something I have found myself.

So what qualities make up a super forecaster and do they apply to horse betting ?.

1. Cautious – Nothing is certain, they are able to think in terms of percentages
2. Humble – Reality is infinitely complex
3. Nondeterministic – What happens is not meant to be and does not have to happen
4. Actively open minded – Beliefs are hypothesis to be tested, not treasures to be protected
5. Intelligent and Knowledgable With a Need For Cognition – Intellectually curious, enjoy puzzles.
6. Reflective – Introspective and self critical
7. Numerate – Comfortable with number

Within their forecasting they tend to be

8. Pragmatic – Not wedded to any ideas of agenda
9. Analytical – Capable fo stepping back and considering other views
10. Dragon Fly Eyed – Value a wide range of views which they then synthesize
11.Thoughtful updaters – When facts change they change their minds
12. Good Intuitive Psychologists – Aware of checking for personal biases

In their work they tend to be

13. Growth Mindset – Believe its possible to get better
14. Grit – Determined to keep at it however long it takes

I am sure you will tick a few of those as supremely relevant to horse betting. At the moment I am running a similar forecasting group in horse betting. Each member is assigned a specialist distance eg 5f and is asked to make selections to the group based on morning value prices. I hope to report back on this later in the year. By the way we have one vacancy in the group to cover 6f races.