I was pretty impressed by this:
Inevitable!? What a wild thing to say in late January! It seems like other people I follow, even some of the ones who were ahead of the curve on this, were still thinking a major global pandemic was a possibility, but not necessarily a probability, even for a couple weeks after this. Certainly not inevitable. And of course, many of us were still expecting it to be contained and/or thinking it was just the flu well into March.
I’m not usually impressed when I find out about people who predicted surprising things before they happened, since they’re usually crackpots who just got lucky, and are mostly wrong about other things. Even a stopped watch is right twice a day. But this guy was already established as the #1 predictor on Metaculus! When you make an exceptional prediction after establishing a track record of making exceptional predictions, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that it wasn’t just a lucky guess.
I think this is more evidence that there really are people who are talented at predicting future outcomes. It’s too bad our society doesn’t seem very interested in that skill! Our civilization could be so much smarter if we took advantage of the people and tools that could help us make better predictions. Imagine if we put as much effort into finding and training forecasters as we put into finding and developing NBA players.