posted on 2022-01-01

Predictions for 2022

ME: You journalists have your fingers on the pulse of time. Say, what does the new year hold for us?

JOURNALIST: It’s impossible to tell. Nothing is certain.

ME: Surely some things are as good as certain.

JOURNALIST: Well, of course. The imminent repeal of Roe v. Wade – that’s certain. And a catastrophic defeat for the Democrats in next year’s midterm elections – that’s certain, too.

ME: Nothing from the world outside the States?

JOURNALIST: That’s murkier.

ME: Anything else?

JOURNALIST: Nothing apart from the continuing degradation of life on planet earth due to cataclysmic climate change.

ME: I admire your willingness to stake your reputation in falsifiable prediction-making.

JOURNALIST: The key is to have a journalistic frame of mind. Verifying your sources, checking your facts, doing your homework – that’s what it’s all about. Being able to see things from different points of view. Of course, we don’t really believe in that stuff about journalistic objectivity anymore. Everybody knows that nobody is perfectly objective, ergo everybody is equally biased and there’s no point even trying. But that’s a good thing – nobody can expect us to be right if we can’t say what we really feel. Besides, journalists are on average far more conscientious and informed than the regular person – I think I heard that somewhere …

ME: I admire your ability to introspect, too. Being an amateur writer, I am no match for you as a forecaster, but I do sometimes try to foretell the future. In fact, I have my own predictions for the year to come …

Section 1: Astronomy #

In 2022,

  1. The moon will wax and wane. ⇒ 50%
  2. The sun will rise in the west and set in the east. ⇒ 50%

Section 2: Mortality #

In 2022,

  1. Someone will die. ⇒ 60%
  2. Someone won’t die. ⇒ 60%
  3. Everyone will die. ⇒ 60%
  4. No one will die. ⇒ 60%
  5. No human or other primate is resurrected after three or more days of having been dead. ⇒ 60%

Section 3: Democracy #

In 2022,

  1. There will be free and fair elections in Australia. ⇒ 70%
  2. There will be free and fair elections in Brazil. ⇒ 70%
  3. There will be free and fair elections in China. ⇒ 70%
  4. There will be free and fair elections in Colombia. ⇒ 70%
  5. There will be free and fair elections in Costa Rica. ⇒ 70%
  6. There will be free and fair elections in France. ⇒ 70%
  7. There will be free and fair elections in North Korea. ⇒ 70%
  8. There will be free and fair elections in Saudi Arabia. ⇒ 70%
  9. There will be free and fair elections in Slovenia. ⇒ 70%
  10. There will be free and fair elections in Sweden. ⇒ 70%

Section 4: Culture #

In 2022,

  1. Another poet will notice the similarity between café furniture and insects. ⇒ 80%
  2. Another early music lover will see the genius of John Browne’s Stabat iuxta Christi crucem. ⇒ 80%
  3. Another romantic will hold a conch to their ear and strain to hear something of significance. ⇒ 80%
  4. Another cinema-goer will turn around to glare angrily at the person who’s talking with their friend. ⇒ 80%
  5. Another pope will put a dead predecessor on trial for perjury. ⇒ 80%

Section 5: Animals #

In 2022,

  1. Somebody will eat a factory farmed animal. ⇒ 90%
  2. Somebody will use cosmetics tested on animals. ⇒ 90%
  3. Somebody will use medicine tested on animals. ⇒ 90%
  4. Somebody will hunt deer, hare or grouse. ⇒ 90%
  5. Somebody will fish. ⇒ 90%
  6. Somebody will exterminate animals they consider to be pests. ⇒ 90%
  7. Somebody will mistreat their pet. ⇒ 90%
  8. Somebody will accidentally crush an insect. ⇒ 90%
  9. Somebody will turn vegan. ⇒ 90%
  10. I will be the perfect vegan. ⇒ 90%

Section 6: Forecasting #

In 2022,

  1. These predictions will have been perfectly calibrated.[1] ⇒ 100%

  1. What my joke predictions have illustrated is a well-known limitation of the calibration metric. I think Julia Galef discusses it in Scout Mindset, and I know Philip E. Tetlock discusses it in Superforecasting. It does not mean calibration is not a useful metric; it only means that, being an aggregate measure, it doesn’t give the full picture. It only describes how well our predicted probabilities match the actual frequencies of outcomes. From the point of view of calibration, my astronomy predictions look perfect, but of course better predictions for those questions would have been something like 100% certainty that the moon will wax and wane and 100% certainty that the sun will not rise in the west and set in the east. That is because calibration does not care how confident one is in one’s predictions.

    Galef, J. (2021). The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t. Penguin.

    Tetlock, P. E., & Gardner, D. (2016). Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction. Random House. ↩︎