Fortune News | Mar 26,2022
Aug 27 , 2022
By Christian Tesfaye ( Christian Tesfaye (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a researcher and Fortune's Deputy Editor-in-Chief whose interests run amok in the directions of political thought, markets, society and pop culture. )
No one really can predict the future. The advances in collecting, collating and analysing large amounts of data are impressive. But they have not taken humanity as near to clairvoyance as was hoped.
Take, for instance, the predictions on the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The coverage all around was about doom and gloom. A potential nuclear strike being provoked was discussed; prices for a barrel of oil hitting 200 dollars; and famines in many places being caused by skyrocketing food prices.
The war was and continues to be ugly, but the worst did not happen. In fact, oil prices are below pre-war levels, as well as global food prices. Geopolitical tensions continue to simmer and food prices are still high by historical standards. But many dire predictions did not pan out. Consider even how every pundit agreed that Russia would take over Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, within a few days until it became all too clear that it had no hope of doing as such.
Or consider the repeated grim assessments of China’s economy. Capital outflows shortly after the war in Europe were supposed to crash the economy. Before that, it was the default by the major real estate developer, Evergrande, which was supposed to be the Lehman-Brothers-collapse moment for China. The country is obviously in a property market crisis, but it is not nearly the calamity it was suggested to be at the outset; not to mention, Evergrande is still standing.
The cherry on the cake was predictions about COVID-19 cases in Africa at the outset of the pandemic. The most morbid reports came from Italy first, with hospitals barely coping with the influx. If Europe struggles so much to arrest the disease, how would Africa, which has the poorest health infrastructure in the world, ever cope? Biblical levels of suffering, it was said, were in store for African countries.
The pandemic was no joke, and its economic and public health effects continue to be felt. But it was nothing like it was predicted to be by the analysts. It has been a struggle to explain why, but the pandemic has been much more manageable in Africa than in the rest of the world, especially considering there have not been full lockdowns.
Why are we so bad at predicting events?
One reasonable explanation is bias. Most of the time, we are expressing what may be based on how we see the world and not necessarily on how it is in reality. We make assumptions that fit our worldviews and ideologies. Even experts have a hard time maintaining an entirely objective stance. The philosophical debate on whether research could be fully objective should be settled by now. It is most likely not the case.
It is also true that most of us are pessimistic. Look at most estimates about events over the past few years, and it is clear that they portray most occurrences as being worse than is otherwise the case. We see a Hitler, an economic calamity or major war in every nook and cranny. It is not that things are not bad. It is just that they are not as bad as advertised – not as grim as the activists and TV channels that want to keep us glued to our screens claim.
It probably has to do with our biological evolution. Our brains are better hardwired to record and respond to potentially alarming developments than they are to good news, because the former could be existential. It is our fight-or-flight psychology at work. The problem is that it was not designed for a world where so much bad news is easily accessible.
Our obsession with data and its analysis makes sense. It is an effort to take subjectivity out of predictions. But this has proven harder than anticipated. We need much more data to map events accurately, including human’s psychological tendency to overreact.
PUBLISHED ON Aug 27,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1165]
Fortune News | Mar 26,2022
Radar | Apr 09,2022
Advertorials | Sep 13,2021
Radar | May 23,2021
My Opinion | Nov 21,2018
Viewpoints | Nov 16,2019
Radar | Jul 18,2020
Radar | Apr 16,2022
Films Review | Dec 07,2019
Featured | Sep 04,2021
Photo Gallery | 69017 Views | May 06,2019
Photo Gallery | 60861 Views | Apr 26,2019
Fortune News | 52832 Views | Jul 18,2020
Fortune News | 52595 Views | Sep 01,2021
Commentaries | May 27,2023
Life Matters | May 27,2023
My Opinion | May 27,2023
Sunday with Eden | May 27,2023
Agenda | May 27,2023
Editorial | May 27,2023
Dec 24 , 2022
Biniam Mikru heads the department of cabinet affairs under Mayor Adanech Abiebie. But...
Jul 2 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
On a rainy afternoon last week, a coffee processing facility in the capital's Akaki-Qality District was abuzz with activ...
Nov 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
Nov 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
Recent headlines seem to augur a global debt crisis. The United States is teetering on the precipice of a self-inflicted default. Egypt,...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country's most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or two...
May 27 , 2023
Tauted as a somnolent giant, Ethiopia's financial scene now stirs, roused by favourab...
May 20 , 2023
The pungent irony wafting from Pretoria last week was hard to miss. Cyril Ramaphosa,...
May 13 , 2023
In March this year, Kamala Harris, the United States Vice President, visited Ghana, T...
May 6 , 2023
The history of the Ethiopian labour movement dates back to the 1940s, marked by perio...
May 27 , 2023
In a triumph over the trials of the pandemic, a rising tide of construction costs and inflation, Zemen Bank has opened a stunning 32-storey...
May 27 , 2023 . By BERSABEH GEBRE
Meqelle is in an animated bid to reclaim control of the management of companies under the Endowment Fund...
May 29 , 2023
Officials at the Addis Abeba City Administration have recently changed the title transfer fees following...
May 27 , 2023 . By MUNIR SHEMSU
The absence of technological equipment to control the contraband trade near national borders and low-qual...
Or see contact page