It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of accurate political predictions (the field’s benchmark for what counts as science), my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money.
.. in the 1980s, the political psychologist Philip E. Tetlock began systematically quizzing 284 political experts — most of whom were political science Ph.D.’s — on dozens of basic questions, like whether a country would go to war, leave NATO or change its boundaries or a political leader would remain in office ..
Professor Tetlock’s main finding? Chimps randomly throwing darts at the possible outcomes would have done almost as well as the experts.
These results wouldn’t surprise the guru of the scientific method, Karl Popper, whose 1934 book “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” remains the cornerstone of the scientific method. Yet Mr. Popper himself scoffed at the pretensions of the social sciences: “Long-term prophecies can be derived from scientific conditional predictions only if they apply to systems which can be described as well-isolated, stationary, and recurrent. These systems are very rare in nature; and modern society is not one of them.”