Forecasts of international political events
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One of the fixed pages for this blog it titled “I’m looking for feedback”, and I am indeed hoping to get feedback. Up to now, I’ve gotten no feedback except in the form of frequent visits to my “Yanukovych’s removal was unconstitutional” post. I think the feedback there is that if you make a factual, well researched post on a subject that people are interested in, you’ll get a lot of readers. Who knew?
However, yesterday I got my first direct feedback. I forecast that Putin would keep Crimea in an undefined state, separate from Ukraine but not legally independent. And within minutes, Vladimir Putin let me know that I was wrong! Russia is going to annex Crimea! OK! Thanks for the prompt feedback!
I’m not an expert in foreign relations. The point of making forecasts is to force myself to be specific and give myself few chances for weaseling. (“I was wrong, but I was really right because…”) In order to make a forecast, I have to do research and try to make sure that I understand the subject. If I’m going to avoid weaselly forecasts, I have to pay attention to the things I don’t know, instead of glossing over them. That’s actually hard to do, and making forecasts that are going to be wrong periodically helps keep me from being lazy.
By documenting my sources and committing myself to a specific forecast, I think it becomes easier for other people to spot errors in my information and criticize my logic. You can do that with a comment on this blog, or you can include a link back to one of my posts when you make a post on a blog or discussion forum. I’ll see the link back and be able to read your comments.
The big weakness in my Crimea forecast was that Putin isn’t telegraphing his moves. A critical part of my forecast was trying to figure out what Putin is thinking. I’m not Russian and I don’t see the world from a Russian viewpoint. Figuring out what a Russian viewpoint would be is part of the fun. If you’re reading from the Russian Federation (I see your page views!) then your input would be particularly valuable.
And of course, I will always value Vladimir Putin’s input. Volodya, call me!