Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Holding Pundits Accountable?
Joel Klein notes in the current issue of Time that most Americans supported the Iraq war at the beginning--meaning most politicians supported it--meaning that most foreign policy experts were going to support it if they wanted to not be cut out of the herd of acceptable commentators. This points to the trend that Anatol Lieven complained about earlier this year in the American Conservative:
In the case of the non-debate on NATO membership of Ukraine, once the leaders of both the Republicans and Democrats had committed themselves to this, no Washington expert who hoped for a job in the next administration—i.e. most of them —was going to raise his or her voice in protest. This is the way that most of the Washington think-tank world works.
So what is to be done? Justin Logan wrote yesterday: :
The best way to correct the situation is by developing a predictions database, where experts can weigh-in on specific, falsifiable claims about the future, putting their reputations on the line.
Predicting the future is hard, and if nothing else, pundits are experts at explaining why their failed predictions are somebody else’s fault. It may be the case that even the best experts rarely make accurate predictions of important events. But the only way to better our predictions in the future is to learn not just who gets things right, but why. Putting our reputations where our mouths are would teach us a great deal.
But I don't think we'll see this happen anytime soon.
Incidentally, I don't think that the Bush administration did much harm by taking its eyes off North Korea. Pyonyang appears to be a status quo regime that now has what it needs, which is a nuclear potential that is just short of an actual short- to mid-term threat. But that's just my thumb talking