Archive for the ‘Veridiction’ Category

I realize that January has come and gone (heck, February is almost out the door) and that is the month where I do most of my veridictions (my completely fabricated word for the process of verifying predictions). Be the calendar (and my procrastination) as it may be, but I will still offer up this prediction that I have been holding on to since September of last year.

Near the end of the ninth month of 2013, the U.S. government was on the verge of a self-imposed shutdown.

Before the lights were turned out, Republican Senator Tom Coburn (of Oklahoma) made a prediction concerning how the Grand Old Party would fare if, indeed, the government did shut down.

In no uncertain terms, Senator Coburn said the GOP would “fold like hotcakes” in its quest to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by shutting down the federal government.

So, what happened?

For sixteen days starting on October 1 (aka the start of Fiscal Year 2014), the U.S. federal government did indeed shut down. When it was over and business resumed in Washington, D.C., the ACA was untouched.

At a cost of $24 billion (according to Standard & Poor’s), some in the Republican Party shut down the federal government to defund the ACA and got zero in return.

Senator Coburn’s prediction of folding like pancakes was spot on. Congrats (I think).

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Today’s batter at the verdiction plate (veridiction = my completely created name for the process of verifying predictions) is Sue Mi Terry, a former analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (also known as the CIA by all the really cool kids) and professor at Columbia University (which has no cool name for the kids to call it).

Back in April of last year, during the time when the leader of North Korea was becoming all uppity and belligerent, Sue Mi Terry – according to this article from WIRED magazine – made the assertion that, “North Korea will launch an attack.”

She goes on to say that, “it [the attack] will be something sneaky and creative and hard to definitively trace back to North Korea to avoid international condemnation and immediate retaliation from Washington or Seoul.”

So how did that whole “will launch an attack” prediction turn out?

You may forgive yourself if you don’t recall North Korea starting an attack in 2013 – sneaky or otherwise – because it never happened.

Swing and a miss for Professor Terry.

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It’s January (as it is every year around this time) and that means that it’s time again to look back and look forward.

For me and this blog, January means it is time to dive into my file of veridiction (my completely made-up name for the process of verifying predictions) and see who hit a grand slam and who whiffed at the plate.

Today’s batter is Philip J. “P.J.” Crowley, the former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

Back in December of 2011, Mr. Crowley penned a piece about the Arab Spring that appeared on the website for BBC News. You can read that story for yourself by jumping over to this link.

In that article about the wave of freedom sweeping across Arab lands, Mr. Crowley wrote, “A leadership change is…inevitable in Syria.”

So how has that prediction of an “inevitable” change in leadership panned out?

Well, putting aside the obvious fact that since the leadership of Syria will inevitably change at some point in time in the future because the man who ran Syria at the end of 2011, Bashar al-Assad, is mortal and will die at some point, I don’t think Mr. Crowley had type of leadership change in mind when he wrote his piece.

I am going to surmise that by using the phrase “inevitable” that Mr. Crowley meant that al-Assad would be ousted one way or another and that his departure would be sooner rather than later.

Putting Mr. Crowley’s prediction to the test, we find that a little over two years have passed and Bashar al-Assad still remains at the helm of the Syrian government.

Swing and a miss for Mr. Crowley.

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To kick us off in the Land of Smiles, let’s start off with a post from the veridiction files…

Part of the fun of writing this blog is holding on to news stories for a good period of time and seeing how they come out. That is the focus of my series of postings called veridictions – my completely made-up name for the process of verifying predictions. This post drives down that highway as I blow the dust off a story I have been keeping since March of 2010. That article made a prediction about life at the end of 2012 and now that time has come.

Okay, it’s way past the end of 2012 but sometimes it is hard for me to find all the data I need to tell if the predictor was right or hellishly wrong.

In the third month of 2010, BBC News ran a story online touting how the company Getjar, an app store, had predicted the state of the mobile app business at the end of 2012. In that BBC News article, Getjar announced that sales of mobile apps would reach the $17.5 billion mark by the end of 2012.

Now that we are halfway through 2013, how did Getjar’s prediction pan out?

The figure I found online – courtesy of AndriodAuthority.com – was that as of November 2012, the worldwide mobile app business was set to top $30 billion.

Getjar’s crystal ball was wrong by almost a half, but I’m sure the makers of apps are glad that their prediction was too low.

The other half of Getjar’s prognostication was that the number of downloads would reach 50 billion by the end of 2012. This was quite the call as the BBC story notes that that number would mean a 92% year-on-year increase from the 7 billion downloads of 2010.

Again…now that we are halfway through 2013, how did Getjar’s prediction pan out?

According to this article from Seeking Alpha in January of 2013, the numbers show that Getjar was close enough for me to give them a call of a correct prediction.

From Seeking Alpha, for the twelve months ending September 2012, the number of worldwide downloads hit 43.6 billion.

Can such astronomical numbers and phenomenal growth continue for the next two – or five, or ten – years? I certainly have no idea. I will leave that to other online predictors and prognosticators to debate.

Perhaps there’s even an app for that.

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For those of you who haven’t checked your tickets yet, all of you who selected the “March 5″ slot on your “When Will Hugo Die?” sweepstakes card can collect your winnings courtesy of last week’s announcement.

I have written before about how a certain ex-news anchor made a prediction about when the Venezuelan leader would pass and about how far off the mark Mr. Rather was.

This is a follow-on post to document the results of another person who predicted when Hugo Chavez would succumb to his cancer. Our subject for today’s veridiction (my completely fabricated name for the process of verifying predictions) is Venezuelan doctor Jose Marquina (who works in the United States). In December of last year, Dr. Marquina told a Florida radio station that Chavez had “between two and three months to live”.

When Dan Rather made his prediction, his source also said that Chavez had between sixty and ninety days left on the planet. However, that was guess was made back in May of 2012 and Chavez continued on far past that milestone.

So how did Dr. Marquina do? His timeframe of morbidity places Chavez’s expiration between February and March of 2013.

It appears that Dr. Marquina was spot on.

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January – the months that heralds the start of the new year – brings with it the opportunity to look ahead and to look behind. Last year around this time, the folks at the podcast The World Next Week (brought to you by the Council on Foreign Relations) took their airtime to look ahead as to what the year 2012 would bring. During their glance forward, one member of that January 5, 2012, podcast said that he…

…wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the top five stories we’ll be talking about next year.

The “this” mentioned by the on-air host was the threat of the Iranian government to close access to the Strait of Hormuz over sanctions from the European Union.

Now is the time where I look behind and execute my veridiction (my created word for the process of verifying predictions) on The World Next Week. I am going to make a linguistic leap and say that when the host said “next year”, that he was talking about the year 2012. Even though the podcast in question aired on the fifth day of 2012 and the phrase “next year” literally would mean 2013, I am still standing by my interpretation that the host was talking about 2012.

With that interpretation in mind, was he correct? Was the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and curtail the export of oil from Iran one of the top five stories of the year.

In short, no.

According to Google, “this” was not one of the top ten trending news stories of the year.

Neither was “this” one of the top ten stories from Yahoo! News.

“This” also did not rank a mention in the top ten stories as ranked by the Associated Press.

In a year that held a Presidential election in the United States, a hurricane that battered the East Coast, a horrific shooting in a school, a fiscal cliff, and a guy breaking the sound barrier without a jet, a story about threats from Iran – that never happened anyway – was going to have a tough time grabbing people’s attention.

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Last week, I wrote a few pieces for my “Veridiction” category (my made-up name for the process of verifying predictions) that had to do with folk who put forward their prognostications about what wold happen in the 2012 Presidential election. All of my contestants last week (Newt Gingrich, Bill Frezza, and Kenneth Bickers & Michael Berry) were spot-off wrong.

Was there anyone who correctly predicting the results?

According to this article from Bloomberg Businessweek, there were at least three.

Nate Silver, the gentleman who runs the FiveThirtyEight blog for The New York Times, is probably the one with the most name recognition for the moment. The model used by Silver for his blog correctly predicted the winner of all fifty states plus the District of Columbia. While national polls were showing a tight race between President Obama and Governor Romney, those numbers were irrelevant. The winner of a presidential election is determined by who wins the most votes in the Electoral College, so a presidential election is really 51 separate elections. Silver understood this basic fact about the American political system and his model reflected that reality. Kudos to Mr. Silver for being the UNIVAC of our time.

Other people who were correct in divining the winner last November 6.

Congratulations to Drew Linzer of votamatic.org who forecasted correctly that the President would garner 332 votes in the Electoral College.

Joining Silver and Linzer in the winner’s circle is Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium whose best guess was also a 332-206 tally in the Electoral College for President Obama.

My bottom line about who was right and who was wrong in predicting can best be summed up by this cartoon from the wonderful xkcd.

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In the aftermath of the 2012 Presidential Election, I am continuing my look at verifying the predictions (also known in this blog’s vernacular as veridiction) made by people in the weeks and months before the votes were actually tallied.

My previous post on this subject regarding Newt Gingrich saw a first with one quote containing three predictions, all of which were wrong.

This post also sees a first as I believe I have never had two individual people in the header of one of my posts about veridiction.

Today’s subjects are Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry, two political science professors from the state of Colorado who have a model to help them predict the winners of presidential elections.

Here’s a link to a story written about them so you can read about this academic duo and their model in greater detail.

The article was published on October 4, a month before the election. The gist of the pair’s model is that it uses economic data, not polling numbers, to predict who will be the occupant of the White House next January.

Based on their model, Bickers and Berry said that President Obama would win only 208 votes in the Electoral College and Governor Romney would earn 330.

Now that the final final results are in and with the news that a winner has been declared in the state of Florida (Barack Obama), it can be shown that Bickers and Berry’s model came extremely close to predicting the actual number of Electoral College votes allocated, which turned out to be 332 to 206.

Unfortunately for the model from the pair from Colorado, it was President Obama who had the higher number.

The article I linked to had this to say about the model…

The state-by-state economic data used in their model have been available since 1980. When these data were applied retroactively to each election year, the model correctly classifies all presidential election winners, including the two years when independent candidates ran strongly: 1980 and 1992.

To this, I can only add the thought that a model is only as good as its last prediction.

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The problem with today’s wired world (okay, Western wired world) is that when I read someone’s electronic musings, I can’t tell if they are being sarcastic, ironic, or dead-on all-in serious.

I am confronting this problem as I continue my veridictions (my made-up name for the process of verifying predictions) concerning the presidential election last Tuesday.

The issue of hipster-detachment versus full-bore seriousness is staring me square in the face as I try to determine which side of the sarcasm/serious fence Bill Frezza, a contributor to Forbes, sits on.

In May of this year, Mr. Frezza wrote an opinion piece with the title, “Prediction: Romney Crushes Obama In Presidential Election Blowout”

Frezza does not go into detail about how many Electoral College votes Governor Romney would win on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but his use of the word “Blowout” would (to me) suggest that it would be more than the 206 (or 235 if Florida tips red) Mitt actually did garner.

Other events mis-predicted by Mr. Frezza include “The Supreme Court’s evisceration of Obamacare…” (which did not happen), and “[t]he Occupy movement’s escalating campaign of violence, which culminated in major street battles at both national conventions…

The Forbes‘ contributor tone is so over-the-top that I can only assume his tongue is firmly in his cheek when he espouses such hyperbolic predictions (a la Stephen Colbert).

However, when you read his opinion piece of November 6 where he opines that a second Obama term will lead the country to ruin, I can only make the leap to conclude that he firmly believes what he says.

Therefore, Frezza strikes out with his prediction in May of a November “blowout”.

Let me put this prediction in my file and come back to it in four years to see if, as Frezza predicts, the bottom has fallen out of the currency, an Argentinean-style capital flight and double-digit inflation hits the economy, and the recession has “come back with a vengeance”.

My second-most-favorite part of Frezza’s latest piece is where he writes, “Six months ago, I confidently predicted that Americans would come to their senses and turn back the explosive growth of government unleashed by Barack Obama.”

My favorite part is where Frezza never admits he was wrong.

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Now that the 2012 Presidential election is over and most of the votes have been tabulated, it’s time to get down to the serious business of looking at all the talking heads and see how their prognostications worked out.

Our first look to the 2012 Election edition of veridiction (my name for the process of verifying predictions) comes from former Speaker of the House of Representatives and former candidate for the Republican nomination in 2012, Newt Gingrich.

On October 26 of this year, less than two weeks before the election, Mr. Gingrich made the following prediction

I believe the minimum result will be 53-47 Romney, over 300 electoral votes, and the Republicans will pick up the Senate…

This may be a first in my collection of veridictions, but this call from the former Representative from Georgia is a reverse-hat-trick where he gets all three guesses wrong.

1) The share of the popular vote did not break “53-47″ for Governor Romney, but instead President Obama won more votes nationally (as of this writing).

2) The Republican challenger did not earn over 300 electoral votes. Depending on how Florida falls, Governor Romney will finish the election with 235 or 206 possible votes in the Electoral College.

3) The Democrats remain in control of the Senate. In fact, when all the tabulation was done, the Democratic Party picked up two seats in the upper chamber of Congress.

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