The Blondie – Carlie Rae Jepsen Forecast Usefulness Indicator

Here’s a new tool as we enter into year-ahead prediction season: The Blondie – Carlie Rae Jepsen Forecast Usefulness Indicator.

–          On the Blondie side, we are focusing on their hit, “Call me.” Debbie Harry famously sings, “…any day or night / call me.” When someone is using definitive language, absolute certainty, or 100% odds, we’re calling it “Blondie.”

–          On the Carlie Rae Jepsen side, we are focusing on her breakout single, “Call Me Maybe.”   Jepsen famously sings, “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy / but here’s my number, so call me maybe.” When someone is using nuanced language, acknowledging uncertainty, or placing odds on events, we’re calling it “Carlie Rae Jepsen.”

–          To define the extremes with examples, Harold Camping went full “Blondie” when he very publicly predicted the end of the world on September 6, 1994, and then gave it another go on October 21, 2011. There is both marketing and educational value in making a “Blondie” statement, but for the sake of this note and people observing the forecast, it’s useless.

–          Conversely, your local weatherperson goes “Carlie Rae Jepsen” when they tell you that there’s a 20% chance of rain tomorrow (and therefore an 80% chance of not-rain).  Very uncertain, but probabilistically weighted to be useful.

–          Somewhere in the middle is the “Blondie masquerading as Carlie Rae Jepsen,” or “broken clocks.” These forecasters will make a statement like “America will decline from its super power status.” What you should notice is that without defining a time period and/or odds, this is as useless as a pure “Blondie” prediction with even less guts. At least Camping put what was left of his reputation on the line. The “broken clocks” sell their fear/hope forecasts without accountability, but like a broken clock, they may be right periodically. Avoid them.

–          As we read the projections of what 2018 will hold, keep Blondie and Carlie Rae Jepsen in your mind. Remember that forecaster humility goes a long way, and that it’s up to us to apply a skeptical mind, not the forecaster.

–          We are hardwired to love forecasts because they make us feel informed and smart, but we need indicators like this to nudge us to be just a little less dumb.