Scott Alexander 2021 predictions: calibration and updating exercise

by Rob Bensinger10 min read29th Apr 20212 comments

19

World Modeling
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Scott Alexander makes yearly predictions on SSC/ACX. This year, I avoided looking at his blog post so I could make my own unanchored predictions about the same topics, using a copy of the post with Scott's probabilities removed. Then I looked at his and others' numbers, to see how much they update me.

For each question...

My numbers were influenced a lot by the fact that I expect to round to the nearest 10% (or to 1% / 5% / 95% / 99% at the extremes) to check calibration.

 

US/WORLD

1. Biden approval rating (as per 538) is greater than 50%: [SA 80, ZM 80, MS 61]

  • Initial: 73%
  • Post-Boyfriend: 73%
  • Post-Scott: 75%
  • Final: 75%

2. Court packing is clearly going to happen (new justices don't have to be appointed by end of year): [SA 5, ZM 5, MS ~4-5+]

  • 5%
  • 7%
  • 4%
  • 4%

3. Yang is New York mayor: [SA 80, ZM 70, SM 69-77]

  • 85%
  • 85%
  • 82%
  • 74%

4. Newsom recalled as CA governor: [SA 5, ZM ?, MS ~7]

  • 4%
  • 6%
  • 4%
  • 10%

5. At least $250 million in damage from BLM protests this year: [SA 30, ZM ≤20]

  • 45%
  • 45%
  • 30%
  • 19%

6. Significant capital gains tax hike (above 30% for highest bracket): [SA 20, ZM 20]

  • 40%
  • 40%
  • 20%
  • 23%

7. Trump is allowed back on Twitter: [SA 20, ZM 10]

  • 7%
  • 8%
  • 13%
  • 12%

8. Tokyo Olympics happen on schedule: [SA 70, ZM 80, MS 75]

  • 66%
  • 66%
  • 66%
  • 74%

9. Major flare-up (significantly worse than anything in past 5 years) in Russia/Ukraine war: [SA 20, ZM ≤15, MS ~16]

  • 6%
  • 6%
  • 20%
  • 14%

10. Major flare-up (significantly worse than anything in past 10 years) in Israel/Palestine conflict: [SA 5, ZM 5-~15]

  • 3%
  • 3%
  • 3%
  • 11%

11. Major flare-up (significantly worse than anything in past 50 years) in China/Taiwan conflict: [SA 5, ZM 3]

  • 2%
  • 2%
  • 2%
  • 2%

12. Netanyahu is still Israeli PM: [SA 40, ZM 30, MS 22]

  • 86%
  • 86%
  • 40%
  • 35%

13. Prospera has at least 1000 residents: [SA 30, ZM 30]

  • 13%
  • 15%
  • 24%
  • 21%

 

ECON/TECH

14. Gamestop stock price still above $100: [SA 50, ZM 50, MS 60]

  • 39%
  • 39%
  • 50%
  • 59%

15. Bitcoin above 100K: [SA 40, ZM 25, MS 25]

  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 36%
  • 18%

16. Ethereum above 5K: [SA 50, ZM 30, MS 11]

  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 40%
  • 19%

17. Ethereum above 0.05 BTC: [SA 70, ZM 55, MS ~33]

  • 50%
  • 50%
  • 65%
  • 50%

18. Dow above 35K: [SA 90, ZM<<90, MS 50]

  • 77%
  • 77%
  • 90%
  • 50%

19. ...above 37.5K: [SA 70, ZM ?, MS 20]

  • 48%
  • 48%
  • 70%
  • 20%

20. Unemployment above 5%: [SA 40, ZM 50, MS 37]

  • 74%
  • 74%
  • 55%
  • 55%

21. Google widely allows remote work, no questions asked: [SA 20, ZM 30]

  • 18%
  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 23%

22. Starship reaches orbit: [SA 60, ZM 60, MS 50]

  • 42%
  • 45%
  • 60%
  • 57%

 

COVID

23. Fewer than 10K daily average official COVID cases in US in December 2021: [SA 30, ZM 70]

  • 48%
  • 48%
  • 32%
  • 52%

24. Fewer than 50K daily average COVID cases worldwide in December 2021: [SA 1, ZM 1]

  • 8%
  • 8%
  • 0.8%
  • 3%

25. Greater than 66% of US population vaccinated against COVID: [SA 50, ZM 60, MS ~77+]

  • 69%
  • 69%
  • 59%
  • 59%

26. India's official case count is higher than US: [SA 50, ZM ≥80]

  • 70%
  • 70%
  • 55%
  • 75%

27. Vitamin D is [not] generally recognized (eg NICE, UpToDate) as effective COVID treatment: [SA 70, ZM 50 (but mistook SA as 30), MS ~75-85]

  • 93%
  • 93%
  • 81%
  • 81%

28. Something else not currently used becomes first-line treatment for COVID: [SA 40, ZM 25]

  • 29%
  • 36%
  • 40%
  • 40%

29. Some new variant not currently known is greater than 25% of cases: [SA 50, ZM 60]

  • 35%
  • 42%
  • 44%
  • 52%

30. Some new variant where no existing vaccine is more than 50% effective: [SA 40, ZM ≤25]

  • 8%
  • 10%
  • 27%
  • 17%

31. US approves AstraZeneca vaccine: [SA 20, ZM 20, MS 37]

  • 68%
  • 65%
  • 20%
  • 20%

32. Most people I see in the local grocery store aren't wearing a mask: [SA 60, ZM 75]

  • 53%
  • 53%
  • 60%
  • 69%

 

COMMUNITY

33. Major rationalist org leaves Bay Area: [SA 60, ZM ?]

  • 91%
  • 91%
  • 89%
  • 89%

34-37. [redacted] []

38. No new residents at our housing cluster: [SA 40, ZM 35]

  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 40%
  • 37%

39. No current residents leave our housing cluster: [SA 60, ZM 65]

  • 48%
  • 48%
  • 60%
  • 56%

40-52. [redacted] []

53. At least seven days my house is orange or worse on PurpleAir.com because of fires: [SA 80, ZM 80]

  • 53%
  • 55%
  • 80%
  • 80%

 

PERSONAL

54-59. [redacted] []

60. There are no appraisal-related complications to the new house purchase: [SA 50, ZM 60]

  • 30%
  • 40%
  • 50%
  • 60%

61. I live in the new house: [SA 95, ZM 90]

  • 82%
  • 82%
  • 93%
  • 92%

62. I live in the top bedroom: [SA 60, ZM 65]

  • 67%
  • 67%
  • 58%
  • 65%

63. I can hear / get annoyed by neighbor TV noise: [SA 40, ZM 30]

  • 58%
  • 58%
  • 40%
  • 37%

64. I'm playing in a D&D campaign: [SA 70, ZM 70]

  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 70%
  • 68%

65. I go on at least one international trip: [SA 60, ZM 60]

  • 26%
  • 26%
  • 60%
  • 57%

66. I spend at least a month living somewhere other than the Bay: [SA 50, ZM 50]

  • 17%
  • 17%
  • 50%
  • 50%

67. I continue my current exercise routine (and get through an entire cycle of it) in Q4 2021: [SA 70, ZM 65]

  • 17%
  • 15%
  • 63%
  • 60%

68. I meditate at least 15 days in Q4 2021: [SA 60, ZM 60]

  • 15%
  • 15%
  • 60%
  • 59%

69. I take oroxylum at least 5 times in Q4 2021: [SA 40, ZM 40]

  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 38%
  • 38%

70. I take some substance I haven't discovered yet at least 5 times in Q4 2021 (testing exempted): [SA 30, ZM 25]

  • 31%
  • 31%
  • 30%
  • 24%

71. I do at least six new biohacking experiments in the next eight months: [SA 40, ZM 40]

  • 36%
  • 36%
  • 36%
  • 38%

72. [redacted] []

73. The Twitter account I check most frequently isn't one of the five I check frequently now: [SA 20, ZM 15]

  • 48%
  • 48%
  • 20%
  • 24%

74. I make/retweet at least 25 tweets between now and 2022: [SA 70, ZM 75]

  • 60%
  • 60%
  • 70%
  • 70%

 

WORK

75. Lorien has 100+ patients: [SA 90, ZM 85]

  • 58%
  • 58%
  • 90%
  • 87%

76. 150+ patients: [SA 20, ZM 25]

  • 45%
  • 45%
  • 20%
  • 21%

77. 200+ patients: [SA 5, ZM 5-10]

  • 38%
  • 37%
  • 9%
  • 8%

78. I've written at least ten more Lorien writeups (so total at least 27): [SA 30, ZM 30]

  • 43%
  • 43%
  • 24%
  • 24%

79-83. [redacted] []

84. I have switched medical records systems: [SA 20, ZM 15]

  • 46%
  • 50%
  • 20%
  • 20%

85. I have changed my pricing scheme: [SA 20, ZM 20]

  • 28%
  • 34%
  • 20%
  • 20%

 

BLOG

86. ACX is earning more money than it is right now: [SA 70, ZM 80]

  • 65%
  • 65%
  • 70%
  • 72%

87-89. [redacted] []

90. There is another article primarily about SSC/ACX/me in a major news source: [SA 10, ZM 25]

  • 75%
  • 71%
  • 23%
  • 23%

91. I subscribe to at least 5 new Substacks (so total of 8): [SA 20, ZM 30]

  • 13%
  • 18%
  • 20%
  • 20%

92. I've read and reviewed How Asia Works: [SA 90, ZM 90]

  • 50%
  • 53%
  • 88%
  • 88%

93. I've read and reviewed Nixonland: [SA 70, ZM 70]

  • 45%
  • 56%
  • 65%
  • 66%

94. I've read and reviewed Scout Mindset: [SA 60, ZM 70]

  • 59%
  • 60%
  • 60%
  • 63%

95. I've read and reviewed at least two more dictator books: [SA 50, ZM 45]

  • 42%
  • 42%
  • 42%
  • 42%

96. I've started and am at least 25% of the way through the formal editing process for Unsong: [SA 30, ZM 30]

  • 60%
  • 63%
  • 30%
  • 29%

97. Unsong is published: [SA 10, ZM 10]

  • 15%
  • 42%
  • 14%
  • 14%

98. I've written at least five chapters of some non-Unsong book I hope to publish: [SA 40]

  • 41%
  • 39%
  • 40%
  • 40%

99. [redacted] wins the book review contest: [SA 60, ZM 50]

  • 8%
  • 8%
  • 52%
  • 48%

100. I run an ACX reader survey: [SA 50, ZM 50]

  • 55%
  • 53%
  • 48%
  • 48%

101. I run a normal ACX survey (must start, but not necessarily finish, before end of year): [SA 90, ZM 90]

  • 65%
  • 65%
  • 86%
  • 84%

102. By end of year, some other post beats NYT commentary for my most popular post: [SA 10, ZM 10]

  • 65%
  • 65%
  • 13%
  • 14%

103. I finish and post the culture wars essay I'm working on: [SA 90, ZM 90]

  • 38%
  • 40%
  • 85%
  • 85%

104. I finish and post the climate change essay I'm working on: [SA 80, ZM 80]

  • 46%
  • 47%
  • 80%
  • 80%

105. I finish and post the CO2 essay I'm working on: [SA 80, ZM 80]

  • 49%
  • 52%
  • 80%
  • 80%

106. I have a queue of fewer than ten extra posts: [SA 70, ZM 60]

  • 57%
  • 57%
  • 70%
  • 60%

 

META

107. I double my current amount of money ($1000) on PredictIt: [SA 10, ZM 15]

  • 49%
  • 49%
  • 10%
  • 22%

108. I post my scores on these predictions before 3/1/22: [SA 70, ZM 75]

  • 54%
  • 54%
  • 63%
  • 64%

19

2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:11 AM
New Comment

Does “vaccinated” mean at least one dose? Or “fully” vaccinated?

Should be 'at least one dose'. I don't see a reason to treat 'one dose of Moderna' as categorically unlike 'one dose of J&J'.

In all cases of ambiguity, I'm assuming Scott Alexander's the arbiter -- these are really predictions about what Scott will judge the answer to be come end-of-2021.