Less [adjective] than Zeus

Predictions For 2014

(inspired by New Years’ Prediction Thread. To make life easy for myself, I’m limiting myself to 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 95, and 99. Unless otherwise specified, predictions are about whether something happens before the end of 2014, except LW Survey predictions which will be judged whenever next survey is finished)

Global Predictions

1. Obamacare will survive the year mostly intact: 80%
2. US does not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 100 US soldiers: 90%
3. Syria’s civil war will not end this year (unstable cease-fire doesn’t count as “end”): 60%
4. Bitcoin will end the year higher than $1000: 70%
5. US official unemployment rate will be < 7% in Dec 2014: 80%
6. Republicans will keep the House in US midterm elections: 80%
7. Democrats will keep the Senate in US midterm elections: 60%
8. North Korea's government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 80%
9. Iraq's government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 60%
10. China's government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 99%
11. US government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 99%
12. Egypt's government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 60%
13. Israel-Palestine negotiations remain blocked, no obvious plan for Palestinian independence: 99%
14. Israel does not get in a large-scale war (ie >100 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 95%
15. Sochi Olympics will not be obvious disaster (ie spectacular violence, protests that utterly overshadow events, or have to be stopped early): 90%
16. Putin will remain President of Russia at end of 2014: 95%
17. Obama will remain President of USA at end of 2014: 95%
18. No nuclear weapon used in anger in 2014: 99%
19. No terrorist attack in USA killing > 100 people: 90%
20. No mass shooting in USA killing > 10 people: 50%

Online Community Predictions

1. Republic of Shireroth will not officially disband or obviously die before end of 2014: 90%
2. Republic of Shireroth will remain in Bastion Union: 80%
3. Active population of Shireroth on last 2014 census will be between 10 and 20: 70%
4. Slate Star Codex will remain active until end of 2014: 70%
5. Slate Star Codex will get more hits in 2014 than in 2013: 60%
6. At least one 2014 Slate Star Codex post will get > 10,000 hits total: 80%
7. No 2014 Slate Star Codex post will get > 100,000 hits total: 90%
8. 2014 Less Wrong Survey will show higher population than 2013 Survey conditional on similar methodology: 80%
9. 2014 Less Wrong Survey will show population < 2000 C.O.S.M.: 70%
10. 2014 Less Wrong Survey will have > % female than 2013 Less Wrong Survey: 70%
11. 2014 Less Wrong Survey will have < 20% female: 90%
12. HPMoR will conclude in 2014: 80%
13. At least 1 LW post > 100 karma in 2014: 50%
14. No LW post > 100 karma by me: 80%
15. CFAR will continue operating in end of 2014: 90%
16. MIRI will continue operating in end of 2014: 99%
17. MetaMed will continue operating in end of 2014: 80%
18. None of Eliezer, Luke, Anna, or Julia will quit their respective organizations: 60%
19. No one in LW community will become world-famous (let’s say >= Peter Thiel) for anything they accomplish this year: 80%
20. MIRI will not announce it is actively working on coding a Friendly AI (not just a few bits and pieces thereof) before the end of 2014: 99%

Personal Predictions

1. I will remain at my same job through the end of 2014: 95%
2. I will get a score at >95th percentile for my year on PRITE: 70%
3. I will be involved in at least one published/accepted-to-publish research paper by the end of 2014: 20%
4. I will not break up with any of my current girlfriends through the end of 2014: 50%
5. I will not get any new girlfriends in 2014: 50%
6. I will not be engaged by the end of 2014: 80%
7. I will be living with Ozy by the end of 2014: 80%
8. I will take nootropics on average at least once/week through the second half of 2014: 50%
9. I will not manage to meditate at least 100 days in 2014: 80%
10. I will attend NYC Solstice ritual: 60%
11. I will arrange some kind of Michigan Solstice Ritual: 50%
12. I will not publicly identify as religious (> atheist) by the end of 2014: 95%
13. I will not publicly identify as neoreactionary or conservative (> liberal or libertarian) by the end of 2014: 70%
14. I will not publicly identify as leftist or communist (> liberal or libertarian) by the end of 2014: 80%
15. I will get a Tumblr in 2014: 50%
16. I will not delete/abandon either my Facebook or Twitter accounts: 60%
17. I will have less than 1000 Twitter followers by the end of 2014: 60%
19. When Eliezer sends me a copy of “Perfect Health Diet”, I will not be convinced that it is more correct or useful than the best mainstream nutrition advice (eg Stephen Guyenet’s blog): 70%
20. I will end up being underconfident on these predictions: 50%

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50 Responses to Predictions For 2014

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Can we bet on these predictions? After all you sounds pretty much like a British bookmaker, but honestly I think your global predictions are quite reasonable.

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  2. 20% chance of large NK civil war / revolt seems high to me. Swift coup with a relatively small number of deaths, maybe.

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  3. gattsuru says:

    Obamacare will survive the year mostly intact:

    I would advise strengthening this definition. Especially after a year, the value the public focuses on — or you remember — may change. The reinsurance provisions, for example, were almost entirely unknown one year ago, and now some conservatives are parading them as major parts of the law. I can give a high (>80%) confidence that certain provisions are effectively unrepealable, such as guaranteed issue. Yet I’d say we’re more likely than not (>60%) to see at least a delay in the individual mandate, probably stated in mid-April. Whether this is an essential part of the Affordable Care Act depends not only on your politics, but whether we’re debating the bill in Congress, before the Supreme Court, or at the dinner table.

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  4. suntzuanime says:

    30% for the death of this blog? Say it ain’t so!

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  5. Vanzetti says:

    How about an explanation about how you arrive at any of those predictions?

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  6. ckp says:

    >12. I will not publicly identify as religious (> atheist) by the end of 2014: 95%
    >13. I will not publicly identify as neoreactionary or conservative (> liberal or libertarian) by the end of 2014: 70%
    >14. I will not publicly identify as leftist or communist (> liberal or libertarian) by the end of 2014: 80%

    You’re suspecting you might have a major crisis of faith of some kind?

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  7. St. Rev says:

    Stephen Guyenet counts as mainstream now? We ARE living in the future.

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    • misha says:

      nooooo rev never comment on SSC

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I assumed he was mainstream because he has a Ph. D in the relevant area and does research at a major university. But I admit I don’t know much about the field or the man. Am I wrong?

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      • Douglas Knight says:

        Perfect health diet has a nutrition grad student on its about page, too. Guyenet is in a nutrition department now, but I believe that his PhD was technically in neurobiology.

        I think discussion of what counts as mainstream is pretty pointless. Specifying a benchmark, namely Guyenet, is good.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          One claim I definitely reject that there is a mainstream position. Scott did not explicitly take this position, but St Rev and BenSix do, when they claim that the mainstream position is moving.

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        • BenSix says:

          You have a point. I don’t think of the “mainstream” as a monolith, though.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          I’m glad that you try not to think of the mainstream as monolithic, but do you succeed? The broader the mainstream, the less an individual paper is evidence that it is moving. I suspect that you and St Rev claim it is moving based on far too few papers. Also, I suspect that your source of these papers is a biased filter.

          Incidentally, I have a source who claims that the mainstream is moving to focus on all-cholesterol-but-HDL. I’m sure he is very biased in ways I don’t understand, but I’m pretty sure confirmation bias is not one them.

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      • St. Rev says:

        Guyenet is very good, but definitely not mainstream. He seems to be moving in that direction, but I think that’s more the mainstream moving toward him. As noted, he’s a neurobiologist by training.

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      • BenSix says:

        Guyenet is mainstream when he isn’t talking about saturated fat – though the mainstream seems to be shifting towards his position on that. I do not have the expertise with which judge who’s right, though the respect that the extremely tendentious Gary Taubes receives makes me fear that some people are shifting paradigms too hastily.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          By Scott’s standards, that link is less mainstream than Perfect Health Diet. It is not by a nutritionist, but by a cardiologist; and I think a practitioner rather than a researcher. But he is talking about CVD, while the PHD cancer researcher is not just talking about cancer.

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  8. MugaSofer says:

    “I will not publicly identify as leftist or communist (> liberal or libertarian) by the end of 2014: 80%”

    Wait, I’m confused. I thought “leftist” was a slightly more negative-connotation synonym of “liberal”?

    (I’m Irish, maybe this is different in different countries?)

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  9. Jeff says:

    You think it is equally likely that you and Obama will keep your present jobs?
    Who is more likely to die?
    Who is more likely to be fired?
    Who is more likely to quit?

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  10. Alejandro says:

    So you are saying there is only a 50% chance of remaining a liberal/libertarian/liberaltarian, and that the other 50% is composed of a 30% chance moving strongly to the right, and 20% chance moving strongly to the left? This would mean you feel your political beliefs to be very much in flux and capable of unpredictable change, which is rather unusual for someone who has been thinking about these topics as much as you do–how much new information can you expect to encounter this year? It seems at least one of the 70% and 80% numbers must be underconfident, and probably both of them.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      In the past five years I’ve gone from really disliking libertarianism to sort of identifying as a libertarian, and from thinking neoreaction is absurd to respecting their ability to generate interesting ideas (though not quite swallowing the Kool-Aid). I’m also very uncomfortable with not being further to the left than I am since poverty seems like a really big deal to me. Overall I feel pretty unstable, and although in aggregate I can say I’m probably underconfident I can’t tell exactly how.

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      • Douglas Knight says:

        Your comment suggests to me that your next move will take 5 years. So if there is a 20 or 30% of going left or right, I wouldn’t expect that to be next year, but some time in the next 5 years. Thus I would divide those numbers by 5 and for next year put 90% of staying, 5% of moving each direction.

        If you feel unstable now and didn’t feel unstable over the 5 years of the previous move, then maybe the future will be different, but I suspect you put too much weight on that feeling.

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    • a person says:

      This makes tons of sense to me. I personally have absolutely no idea at which point on the spectrum the correct political ideology lies and I don’t claim to. There are tons of intelligent people vastly more knowledgeable than me who are far left and could destroy me in any debate, and there are tons of intelligent people vastly more knowledgeable than me who are far right and could do likewise. So goes for all the positions in between. How can I possibly identify who is right?

      Additionally, it seems to me like you might be able to derive a large part of differing political ideologies from a set of a few basic assumptions. I can easily anticipate finding a statement where believing it would make me a reactionary and disbelieving it would make me a Marxist.

      Personally I predict an 80% chance that a year from now I continue to have no clue, and then maybe something like 7% chance I identify as center-left, 3% center-right, 5% far-right, 5% far-left.

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  11. maia says:

    Any chance you could write up a review on Perfect Health Diet, if you’re planning to read it? I’d be very interested in hearing your take.

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  12. Randy M says:

    >20. I will end up being underconfident on these predictions: 50%

    Slatestarcodex–Our error bars have error bars!

    Most of these seem pretty mainstream; anything you predict that you think you disagree with the mainstream expert opinion?

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  13. Elissa says:

    I think you’e overestimating the likelihood of change across the board. Anchoring all my predictions on “95% nothing happens” is what made me a super-forecaster.

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  14. rehana says:

    So, at least 10% chance that you’ll go to the NYC solstice ritual *and* arrange one in Michigan?

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  15. Anissimov says:

    Pretty confident about “no nuclear weapon will be used in anger” there, Scott.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      Hasn’t happened in the past 65 years, and there’s much less nuclear tension this year than during most of that time. I think of the options I gave myself 99% is much better than 95%, or else we should see nukes every 20 years.

      Also, in case of nuclear apocalypse, there won’t be anyone around to tell me I was wrong.

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  16. Joe says:

    What brought you down to 95% in the religion prediction? I would have guessed it would be 99%.

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    • Alejandro says:

      Scott has said in the past:

      I have a very hard time going under 2-3% belief in anything that lots of other people believe. This includes religion, UFOs, and ESP.

      so it doesn’t surprise me that he considers the chance of religion being true closer to 5% than to 1%. But as for the political beliefs predictions, I think the chances of him actually changing his mind this year given that he hasn’t in the last years and is unlikely to see new arguments should be lower than the abstract chance of being wrong.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      See the post I made today. If in fact we are in the posthuman future and unspeakably perfect simulator gods blissfully contemplating their own perfection are a likely component of this future, the self-reports of various mystics and psychonauts of having encountered such beings start to sound very plausible. This has been bothering me recently and I can see at least a 5% chance of it eventually leading me to religion.

      I think if true it might be much weirder than just “there are some gods sitting outside our simulation”, though – more like “simulated limited beings and gods oscillating back and forth in a not-exactly-temporal way as a simultaneous solution for both cosmic ennui and suffering”. But that is getting way ahead of my ability to justify myself or describe certain things verbally.

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      • Multiheaded says:

        What do you think of Philip K. Dick’s idea that the simulation might in fact be broken/bugged/incorrectly implemented, and that there might be a benevolent “god” with an existence outside the simulation trying to fix or soft-reboot it without disrupting the simulated entities? From what I’ve read in his notes, he ascribed a good deal of probability to something like this. (Combining it with some utter time-cubism and some generic liberal Christianity.)

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  17. pwyll says:

    I don’t think there’s a need to set up Stephen Guyenet in opposition to Perfect Health Diet – The PHD authors have often referenced Guyenet approvingly: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/06/thoughts-on-obesity-inspired-by-stephan/

    …and also frequently reference him in the notes to their book: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/notes/

    That being said, I would *love* to get your take on the book.

    P.S. Furthermore, if it’s Yudkowsky recommending the book to you, I may have to upwardly revise my currently very low opinion of him.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      It is and you should (although interestingly, at least a few people who follow him on transhumanism have downgraded their opinion of him because he recommends that book; I am really curious to see what is producing such polarized opinions)

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  18. primality says:

    Your probability for a revolution in NK seems far too high. Before reading this post, I would probably have said 99%, based mostly on the fact that it’s managed to survive >20 years since communist dictatorships went out of fashion. Since this is common knowledge, I assume the discrepancy is because you have evidence that I don’t. I’d like to hear this evidence.

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  19. Army1987 says:

    Slate Star Codex will remain active until end of 2014: 70%

    :-(

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  20. Michael Edward Vassar says:

    What are your odds of ceasing to publicly identify as anything recognizable? Of publicly identifying as one thing and privately as something radically different? It seems to me that the logic of coalition politics competes with that of intellectual inquiry if one doesn’t do this.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I already *prefer* not to identify as anything, but I feel it’s a copout not to at least have something to round myself off to when someone asks.

      I don’t think I am involved in political coalitions enough to be risking a lot by identifying as anything remotely normal. If I ended up believing in Nazism or something totally socially unacceptable like that…well, unclear. It depends on what started me believing in Nazism. If it was because I discovered it was very misunderstood, I would want to at least try explaining that to everyone else.

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  21. Ilverin says:

    As regards “No mass shooting in USA killing > 10 people: 50%”, you were wrong (Navy Yard Mass Shooting), but only one happened, so 50% seems to be low, but not excessively low.

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