Columns | Data

Why I No Longer Make Predictions

I believed I could be protected from what lay ahead as long as I saw what was coming.

I think there’s about an 80 to 90 percent chance that I love you now.

What’s the probability I’ll die on a Tuesday while passing that bench by the East River? truth

t complete until I’d done the final calculations to resolve any lingering questions.

I will still be friends with Lisa (i.e., still be on friendly terms with and see her at least twice a month) by the end of 2015: 35 percent.

I will sleep with John: 5 percent.

We will successfully diagnose the cause of Mom’s memory loss: 20 percent.

This is not going to happen

Often I was correct in my guesses, but when I wasn’t, the poor performance bothered me little. It was the act of making predictions that I needed. Making a prediction focuses your attention; it says “look here and look out.” That spreadsheet served as road map for the future and a way to equip me for the emergencies ahead.


So, how does one create these emotional estimates?It’s really kind of just bullshit,