Forecasts and Decisions

A Commentary on Lustick and Tetlock 2021

Published in: Futures & Forecast Science (2021). doi: 10.1002/ffo2.81

Posted on RAND.org on April 02, 2021

by Steven W. Popper, Robert J. Lempert, Paul K. Davis, Tim McDonald

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Lustick and Tetlock (2021) present a distinctive, persuasive case for theory-guided simulation and its use in the intelligence community (IC). The usefulness of their insight can be expanded by recognizing the relationship between the forecasting project, the decision-aiding project, and the knowledge project. We point out further issues for consideration with theory-guided simulation and the foresight project. We argue that when uncertainty prevails to the extent that forecasting becomes challenged, the real measures of merit should be better decisions, not better predictions. Recent advances in decision-making under deep uncertainty (DMDU) offer the prospect of providing just such aid to planning and decision. This, in turn, suggests a reconsideration of the IC (and other knowledge project endeavors') roles in supporting policy deliberations. Potential intersection and cross-fertilization between DMDU concepts and methods and forecasting technique might prove to be to the mutual benefit of both the forecasting and decision-aiding projects and transformative to conceptualization of the nature of the knowledge project.

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