Superforecasting for Cool People

The hot news in astro circles is the unfolding of the recent Leo new moon and its direct influence on understanding the new Venus phase we are in. Let’s factor in the upcoming Mercury rx ping-points when thinking on the lay of the land. This also serves to create helpful portion sizes for study or reflection.

Just make sure you put the portion size back into the big picture. Yes, the increments of time that inner space bodies indicate for phases of experience are relatively small: the little but mighty moon has just a 30 day cycle; mercury zips around every ten or so months; mars marches the circuit every couple of years, but we must never forget that these are cycles within cycles composing millennia of manifesting experience. Thus a person’s life, like a wave on the ocean, takes up existence, flows and subsides in these cycles.

When you first begin to apply astro philosophy, it can be overwhelming and it does help tremendously to see it in short spans. But gradually, you must integrate this knowledge into its true scale for wise living. When we look at a person’s chart we are looking at a baseline for their perceptive past, present and potential future. A good reading is always going to consider the 28 year Saturn cycle and how that has and is going for the individual. Guess what? Superforecasters (some of the smartest, most disciplined and open-minded people on the planet) are interested in the accurate gauging of manifest reality, usually in financial markets and international relations, up to 30 years into the future. And you thought only astrology was that cool. 🙂

Along these lines, I want to recommend some science publications to immensely broaden your landscape of thinking and imagining in the here and now. When we think about all the various relationships we maintain – and the various whys that motivate us – lets take some cues from the pros who study the macro at a granular level. Seriously, while the exercise is by no means an across-the-board drawing of conclusions, there are workable parallels to be considered and implemented for the individual and small group. Upgrade your toolbox:

The Calm Before the Storm, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Gregory F. Treverton    (thanks to rune soup for the heads up)

and from Philip Tetlock: A Short Course in Superforecasting

I recommend Tetlock’s intro: Office of Anticipating Surprise.

The Calm Before the Storm presents five principal sources of nation fragility. While reading about them, I thought about the plausibility of applying these concepts on a micro level. After all, if there is no way of knowing what may happen tomorrow or a year from now, whether you are a country of millions or a body of one, a basic template for gauging responsiveness is going to give some peace of mind.

‘…it’s much more fruitful to focus on how systems can handle disorder—in other words, to study how fragile they are. Although one cannot predict what events will befall a country, one can predict how events will affect a country. Some political systems can sustain an extraordinary amount of stress, while others fall apart at the onset of the slightest trouble. The good news is that it’s possible to tell which are which by relying on the theory of fragility.

Simply put, fragility is aversion to disorder. Things that are fragile do not like variability, volatility, stress, chaos, and random events, which cause them to either gain little or suffer. A teacup, for example, will not benefit from any form of shock. It wants peace and predictability, something that is not possible in the long run, which is why time is an enemy to the fragile. What’s more, things that are fragile respond to shock in a nonlinear fashion.’

I can identify with the teacup, thank you very much. I really don’t want a tempest in – or anywhere near – my teapot. So, I am motivated to create a life structure that, when necessary, can bust a move in seemingly unpredictable ways; that’s called optimal crisis response. Generally speaking, however, wisdom-logic rewards positive outcomes for generally predictive behavior in my dealings with others. You might want to rewrite that into a mantra for the long-term future.

I responded with my interest in all of this at rune soup…and wow…in no time at all, Ivy, over at Circle Thrice wrote up a brilliant Personal Fragility Inventory Tool based on Taleb’s theory. This is one to print and flesh out to your particulars.

The Edge offering will span five free classes, two of which are now available. I see it as a deeper delving into the fragility theory. Phil Tetlock and Barb Mellers relay and explain their experience of and vision for superforecasting to an esteemed group, all attendees fully listed within the link above. It is packed with insights and takeaways and we are not even half way through.

I find it both fascinating and educational to consider how superforecasters must guard against a myriad of personal, cultural and political factors. Just like your average human being…

For example, in discussing national rescue missions and their probability of success, resources were available about many past exercises but as Axelrod points out, ‘There was a lot of censorship on cases. For example, you may remember that Mussolini was rescued by Hitler when he was first captured by the partisans, and that worked. It was done much like Entebbe; the rescuers pretended to be the authorities, basically. Nobody mentioned that one because we don’t want to learn anything from what Hitler had done, even if he was good at hostage rescue.’      (This is, of course, a sensitive example of cultural blockage; still, if the professionals can get blocked when their mission is to gather historical results and not allow emotional bias, could I be missing any important relational lessons because I refuse to even consider a subject or person? Is this a subconscious position?)

A bit later, Sutherland remarks, ‘There’s a big path dependency there, isn’t there? If you negotiate, it doesn’t preclude military action, but if you engage military action, it completely changes your negotiating power.’      (That may sound obvious as hell when you read it, but can you keep it front and center in your dealings with the people you don’t like so much?)

In response, Hillis remarks, ‘How much of the discussion was an honest attempt to evaluate the situation and make the correct decision versus an attempt to justify the decisions? In other words, people came in with a predisposition towards diplomacy or not, and then they told the stories to justify what they had already decided.’     (Ringing any bells in your cosmos?)

And in more familiar lingo to readers here, this is a series of excerpts on storytelling:

Shetland says, ‘In your parallel world—and this is obviously someone from an advertising agency speaking—the perfect solution would be for the superforecasters to hire good storytellers to dress up their predictions in a way that was easily spread. There is a value to shamanism, correct? In order to unify human action, there’s a kind of shamanistic value to a good story, which it coordinates people magnificently.’

Hillis: ‘What makes a good story is being able to present a set of predictions in a way that people can personally relate to. If you can show us the facts or paint a picture of the world that people can see, “Oh, that connects to my own personal experience,” that’s a good story.’

Kahnman: ‘It’s not a characteristic of the story, it’s a characteristic of the people who hear the stories. What makes a good story is a story that will be convincing…’

Lee:I’m just reflecting on what Bob and Danny have been saying. There is something about storytelling that must have psychological effects, probably comforting effects in the case that your prediction turns out to be wrong. I’m just putting myself in the shoes of someone who was involved in Entebbe and now maybe that has persuaded me to make a certain prediction that if it turns out wrong, at least looking at my own psychological fragility, I might say, “Well, it worked out in Entebbe, so…”

Tetlock:’ “I was wrong, but at least I had a good reason for being wrong.” ‘

Lee: ‘Yes.’


From the mind, body, spirit of the singular person to the family, the community and network dynamic, how’s your mythology department measuring up as an asset? Saturn in Scorpio has taught us the fragility of the fairy tale’s happy ending. How will we incorporate our findings in this next chapter for those areas of life where the Venusian archetype backtracks, the staff of Hermes drags, and the Teacher moves into Sagittarius?

Positive Prediction

Astrologically speaking, these life areas are in complimentary positions to one another, meaning that how well you do in one ‘class’ directly affects how successful you are in the others – kind of like 3 for the price of 1 and the energy is on tap for positive results! If we can maintain the attitude of the student, the analyst and ponder these things free of base ego drives, we cannot go wrong even if it happens that we didn’t foresee a particular reality manifesting. Because we will be in the best possible position to respond, to SEE at the granular level, to regroup and recreate. Rather than a mountain, we scale a speed bump.

If you haven’t picked up on the similarities in the patterns yet, tap in and re-dedicate now. Its dedication that counts for students. Wheels spin at all sorts of speeds but the hub remains centered. Your passions, your self-value, your level of emotional dependency on others, your style and motivation in communicating and the openness-level of your listening are all in the frame. What’s happening in each of these subsets with you and around you will provide invaluable insights into the others.

Need some help breaking it all down? For clear and concise assistance, just email:

– weaver

just one of many kinds of relating :)

just one of many kinds of relating 🙂

4 thoughts on “Superforecasting for Cool People

  1. Pingback: Neptune and the Oak

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