Last week’s blog reported on the judgment/forecasting research of psychologist Philip Tetlock. Noting an overall absence of forecasting skill by his so-called expert subjects, Tetlock nevertheless did find differences in performance based on their cognitive styles. Using a hedgehog-fox metaphor drawn from Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” the author discovered that foxes consistently outperform hedgehogs in the forecasting challenges he gave them.

“Low scorers look like hedgehogs: thinkers who ‘know one big thing,’ aggressively extend the explanatory reach of that one big thing … and express considerable confidence that they are already pretty proficient forecasters … High scorers look like foxes: thinkers who know many small things, are skeptical of grand schemes … and are rather diffident about their own forecasting prowess.”

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