Prognostication Scorekeeping

I’m in the process of preparing some 2009 predictions, in the hopes of providing a good opportunity for embarrassment. While I was doing that, though, I thought I’d go ahead and look back at my predictions for 2008 and see whether I should even bother. Here are my results:

Predictions that came to pass

  • Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination, and proceed to defeat John McCain in the general election.
  • President Bush will not be impeached by the House of Representatives’ — nor will any past or former administration official be tried for war crimes.
  • Ron Paul will take at least third place in several primaries, much to the surprise of many, and will not drop out of the race until the last vote is counted. His candidacy will lead to no lasting change in the Republican Party.
  • The United States will have 100,000 or more troops in Iraq at year’s end. The trend toward lower body counts will continue but civil society will remain an elusive goal.
  • Pervez Musharraf will not be President of Pakistan by the end of the year.
  • London will continue to surpass New York City as the financial capital of the world.
  • Osama bin Laden will remain at large.
  • Iran will not possess any nuclear weapons at the end of the year.
  • Roe v. Wade will not be overturned, even if there is an opportunity to do so.
  • The Dark Knight will be the highest grossing motion picture of the year.

Predictions that did not come to pass

  • The New England Patriots will beat the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, becoming the first 19-0 team in NFL history.
  • At least one Division I NCAA or NFL football team currently in the middle of the standings will stop punting on fourth down and consequently will end up as one of the top five teams by the end of the season.
  • The writers’ strike will last at least until the Screen Actor’s Guild contract expires.

Half-Right / Half-Wrong

  • Prominent Republican politicians will buck the conservative orthodoxy and take climate change seriously, relegating anti-climate change forces to the political fringe.

Obviously, anti-climate change Republicans are not in the political fringe, though John McCain backed a cap and trade system quite strongly during the election and earned some GOP establishment kudos for doing so.

Not Enough Data

  • In many localities, more law enforcement resources will be directed to locating and detaining illegal immigrants. Violent crime will rise as a result.

Trying to decide whether this is true would probably take a doctoral thesis, which made it a rather stupid, unquantifiable prediction.

Final Tally

Well, I had 10 right, 3 wrong, and 1 half-right. I’m going to throw out the illegal immigration prediction because it’s impossible to quantify right now which gives me a final score of 10.5/14, or a 75% accuracy rate. That and a nickel will leave me scrounging for 70 more cents to buy a can of soda.

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Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Your eighth prediction under “Predictions that came to pass” is unverifiable. I think it’s true of the seventh one as well.

  2. Alex Knapp says:


    On #8 perhaps, but the IAEA says no, and all available evidence says no. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

    On #7, he’s “at large” until he’s found, even if he’s dead right now.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I think you’re reading the IAEA too kindly. They just say that they don’t know of any not that there aren’t any.

  4. RPK says:

    “The United States will have 100,000 or more troops in Iraq at year’s end. The trend toward lower body counts will continue but civil society will remain an elusive goal.”

    I would say that prediction is more than fifty percent wrong, but since the definition and criterion for civil society are undefined you can make out of your prediction what you want.