Which ‘Expert’ Pundits Make Accurate Predictions?

W&WWondering which political pundits are actually smart and which are full of hot air? Now we know (maybe).

The New York Times‘s Paul Krugman is a modern-day Nostradamus — his predictions (usually concerning the economy) almost always come true. At the other end of the spectrum, if mustachioed conservative columnist and Fox News “expert” Cal Thomas says something is going to happen, it is almost certain that the opposite will occur. All this is thanks to a study concocted at Hamilton College:

Op-ed columnists and TV’s talking heads build followings by making bold, confident predictions about politics and the economy. But rarely are their predictions analyzed for accuracy.

Now, five Hamilton College seniors led by public policy professor P. Gary Wyckoff have analyzed the predictions of 26 prognosticators, sampled the predictions of 26 individuals who wrote columns in major print media and who appeared on the three major Sunday news shows – Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and This Week – and evaluated the accuracy of 472 predictions made during the 16-month period.

Led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the most accurate pundits were Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – all Democrats and/or liberals.

Those scoring lowest – “The Ugly” – with negative tallies were conservative columnist Cal Thomas; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC); U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI); U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter and Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut; and Sam Donaldson of ABC.

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  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I approve of the concept of the study…punditry is rife with wild claims that are completely unsupportable…and no one seems to call anyone on it in some sort of weird code of silence that possesses our media…a ‘thin blue line’ that quietly keeps them from admitting that a lot of pointless speculation is used to fill up program time in the absence of hard facts that might be hard to explain away.

    Its one thing to argue on the internet…voice vague fears of possible worst case scenarios and raise possible suspicions…its another thing altogether to have the so called experts that clutter TV and get paid for their time…lower their standards even further than irate bloggers…and its par for the course anymore. 

    I’m especially glad to see Cal Thomas as the lowest scoring prognosticator…since after decades of being periodically subjected to his rampant BS and hucksterism and considering him to be one of the worlds most syndicated frauds…its nice to see that the raw numbers agree with that conclusion.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I approve of the concept of the study…punditry is rife with wild claims that are completely unsupportable…and no one seems to call anyone on it in some sort of weird code of silence that possesses our media…a ‘thin blue line’ that quietly keeps them from admitting that a lot of pointless speculation is used to fill up program time in the absence of hard facts that might be hard to explain away.

    Its one thing to argue on the internet…voice vague fears of possible worst case scenarios and raise possible suspicions…its another thing altogether to have the so called experts that clutter TV and get paid for their time…lower their standards even further than irate bloggers…and its par for the course anymore. 

    I’m especially glad to see Cal Thomas as the lowest scoring prognosticator…since after decades of being periodically subjected to his rampant BS and hucksterism and considering him to be one of the worlds most syndicated frauds…its nice to see that the raw numbers agree with that conclusion.

    • DeepCough

       I think you oughta know as well as I do that the word “punditry” is used so loosely in this context, it should come as no surprise why so much shit comes out. Metaphors aside, the proper word should be “political pontif,” because that is all these particular people do: pontificate their bullshit.

  • Jedi

    OMGOSH its Dr. Claw! He finally reviled himself!

  • Jedi

    OMGOSH its Dr. Claw! He finally reviled himself!

  • Argosyjones

    That cat looks like he’s had about enough of Cal.

    • DeepCough

       Looks more like the cat is crying for help.

  • Argosyjones

    That cat looks like he’s had about enough of Cal.

  • Argosyjones

    That cat looks like he’s had about enough of Cal.

  • emperorreagan

    Not surprising that Paul Krugman tops the list – he’s probably the most qualified person on the list to comment on economics and complex systems in general.

    Also not surprising that Lindsey Graham & Joe Lieberman star at the bottom, because they’re both fucking idiots.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      Krugman may not be the messiah, but I do respect his willingness to call a sham a sham, with a capital S-H-A-M (e.g., Paul Ryan’s ‘Roadmap to America’s Ruin’).

      I think the major failure effecting the industry is a pervasive wishy-washiness that’s afraid to admit the existence of a bright line between fact and opinion.  I’m sure part of that is ass-covering (everyone’s wrong once in a while–Krugman admitted that even he misunderstood the Euro’s trajectory), part of it’s a tacit acknowledgement that we live in an age of cultural fragmentation so severe that there is little hope of achieving meaningful consensus.

      But my guess is that an even larger share–say 85%–is due to the priority of rhetorical effectiveness over factual accuracy in our consumer culture.  I believe that Harry Frankfurt, author of “On Bullshit” would agree, and might even say that this represents the worst of all possible worlds.  For, unlike the mere liar, who must at least have a proper appreciation of the truth value of his statements, the bullshitter, concerned only with his statement’s rhetorical effect, gradually finds himself lost and adrift in a chaotic world clouded by the chimera of his own making, no longer able to adequately respond to matters urgently bearing upon the categorical imperative of survival. 

      The perfect recipe, if you will, for National Decline.

    • Emory

      Hahahaha!  Thanks, emp.  You give me hope!  

  • emperorreagan

    Not surprising that Paul Krugman tops the list – he’s probably the most qualified person on the list to comment on economics and complex systems in general.

    Also not surprising that Lindsey Graham & Joe Lieberman star at the bottom, because they’re both fucking idiots.

  • DeepCough

     I think you oughta know as well as I do that the word “punditry” is used so loosely in this context, it should come as no surprise why so much shit comes out. Metaphors aside, the proper word should be “political pontif,” because that is all these particular people do: pontificate their bullshit.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Nota Bene:  That “Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas” is a mighty slender volume . . . mighty slender indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Nota Bene:  That “Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas” is a mighty slender volume . . . mighty slender indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Krugman may not be the messiah, but I do respect his willingness to call a sham a sham, with a capital S-H-A-M (e.g., Paul Ryan’s ‘Roadmap to America’s Ruin’).

    I think the major failure effecting the industry is a pervasive wishy-washiness that’s afraid to admit the existence of a bright line between fact and opinion.  I’m sure part of that is ass-covering (everyone’s wrong once in a while–Krugman admitted that even he misunderstood the Euro’s trajectory), part of it’s a tacit acknowledgement that we live in an age of cultural fragmentation so severe that there is little hope of achieving meaningful consensus.

    But my guess is that an even larger share–say 85%–is due to the priority of rhetorical effectiveness over factual accuracy in our consumer culture.  I believe that Harry Frankfurt, author of “On Bullshit” would agree, and might even say that this represents the worst of all possible worlds.  For, unlike the mere liar, who must at least have a proper appreciation of the truth value of his statements, the bullshitter, concerned only with his statement’s rhetorical effect, gradually finds himself lost and adrift in a chaotic world clouded by the chimera of his own making, no longer able to adequately respond to matters urgently bearing upon the categorical imperative of survival. 

    The perfect recipe, if you will, for National Decline.

  • DeepCough

     Looks more like the cat is crying for help.

  • AC

    You have got to be kidding me, not much bias there.  I’ll just say Paul Krugman

  • AC

    You have got to be kidding me, not much bias there.  I’ll just say Paul Krugman

  • Emory

    Hahahaha!  Thanks, emp.  You give me hope!  

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