Sitting around the dinner table last night I rattled off some obscure fact about the alcohol content of Belgian versus German beers to my family. My oldest child looked at me and said, “How much of your brain is dedicated to holding random facts?”
Quite a bit I suppose.
For example, I was teased a bit by my colleagues when I was caught watching this video (below) during lunch about how lithium batteries are made. What my child views as stuffing more random facts into my skull, I view as a quest. A journey to know more and be less wrong. I watch, read and investigate things like this all the time. I am not alone, nearly 360,000 people have watched the video since 2012.
One of my least favorite things in the world is being incorrect. I don’t like it. This probably explains why most of the books I read deal with this problem. My reading list for the past 12 months, excluding CFA Institute and Schweser material, includes:
- Thinking Fast and Slow: by Daniel Kahneman (currently reading)
- Bayes Theorem Examples: an Intuitive Guide: by Scott Hartshorn
- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction: by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner
- How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking: by Jordan Ellenberg
- Naked Statistics: by Charles Wheelan
- The Signal and the Noise: by Nate Silver
- Flash Boys: by Michael Lewis
Other than Flash Boys, all of these books deal with making better judgments and predictions to some extent. One of the books on my list set a few things in motion for me. That book was Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. One of the key tenets of the book is to measure your predictions out in the open for all to see. When you measure or quantify something where everyone can see it, it tends to improve. I have used this trick on my soldiers before. If I wanted physical fitness to improve I posted everyone’s physical fitness test scores on the door to my office and the scores went up. Magic. Works every time. I have even used the trick on myself before. I wanted to pass all three levels of the CFA exams, I started a blog publicizing my methods and results. I passed. It works.
As an aspiring analyst, I want to improve my ability to forecast accurately. To this end, I signed up for the Good Judgment Open and Motley Fool CAPS to start measuring my forecasts. Good Judgment Open allows you to make forecasts on a wide variety of topics from the cost of Li-on batteries for electric cars (now you know why I was watching that video above) to who will be the first person to die in the next season of The Walking Dead (It’s not looking good for Glenn). Motley Fool CAPS allows you to pick stocks to over or underperform the market, which is probably the most fun anyone could possibly have. Both of these sites give you scores and are competitive in nature which is what I am interested in.
Once I finish reading Thinking Fast and Slow, I will be moving on to The Wisdom of Crowds: by James Surowiecki.
Can you predict what my next book will be about?