Future Babble by Daniel Gardner
Why Pundits Are Hedgehogs and Foxes Know Best

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 9 Critic Reviews



An award-winning journalist uses landmark research to debunk the whole expert prediction industry, and explores the psychology of our obsession with future history.

In 2008, experts predicted gas would hit $20 a gallon; it peaked at $4.10. In 1967, they said the USSR would be the world's fastest-growing economy by 2000; by 2000, the USSR no longer existed. In 1908, it was pronounced that there would be no more wars in Europe; we all know how that turned out. Face it, experts are about as accurate as dart- throwing monkeys. And yet every day we ask them to predict the future- everything from the weather to the likelihood of a terrorist attack. Future Babble is the first book to examine this phenomenon, showing why our brains yearn for certainty about the future, why we are attracted to those who predict it confidently, and why it's so easy for us to ignore the trail of outrageously wrong forecasts.

In this fast-paced, example-packed, sometimes darkly hilarious book, journalist Dan Gardner shows how seminal research by UC Berkeley professor Philip Tetlock proved that the more famous a pundit is, the more likely he is to be right about as often as a stopped watch. Gardner also draws on current research in cognitive psychology, political science, and behavioral economics to discover something quite reassuring: The future is always uncertain, but the end is not always near.

About Daniel Gardner

See more books from this Author
Daniel Gardner is professor of history at Smith College. He is the author of Learning to Be a Sage and Chu Hsi and the Ta-hsueh: Neo-Confucian Reflection on the Confucian Canon.
Published October 12, 2010 by McClelland & Stewart. 320 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Future Babble

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Gardner takes a few jabs at such pundits as Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, who claims a 90 percent correct prediction rate (see The Predictioneer’s Game, 2009), which Gardner heartily doubts.

| Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Enlarge This Image This is the problem Dan Gardner tackles in “Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better.” Gardner, a Canadian journalist and author of “The Science of Fear,” takes as his starting point the work of Philip Tetlock, a professor at th...

Mar 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Most areas of life require, to a greater or lesser degree, some degree of risk intelligence, but many of those in the positions where this is most important – doctors, for instance – prove themselves highly unqualified, not because they aren't bright or well-trained, but precisely because their i...

May 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Gardner, a columnist and senior writer for the Ottawa Citizen (The Science of Fear), examines the misguided trust people place in media forecasters and "legions of experts" who make meaningless predictions about the future.

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

The Wall Street Journal

See more reviews from this publication

If you look at the predicted history of the world we live in now—as divined by experts in the past—it turns out to be an unfamiliar place: Japan owns the early 21st century while the Soviet Union (yes, the Soviet Union, for communism is still in vogue) has surged past the U.S. in productivity.

Apr 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

Washington Independent Review of Books

If our expert says that fear of future supply problems will cause oil prices to spike, you brace yourself to pay more the next time you fill up the car.

| Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

Literary Review

Taking his cue from Isaiah Berlin's famous essay on the fox (who knows many things) and the hedgehog (who knows One Big Thing), Gardner produces copious data to show that in punditry foxes have always been better than hedgehogs because they are modest about their ability to foretell the future an...

| Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

Reason Magazine

conservative - and very profound - misunderstanding of what I think.

Mar 15 2013 | Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

Psych Central

Yet, as Dan Gardner tells us in Future Babble, the fact that our futures aren’t written has not stopped numerous so–called experts from filling the media with endless predictions about the world to come.

| Read Full Review of Future Babble: Why Pundits Ar...

Reader Rating for Future Babble

An aggregated and normalized score based on 38 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review