Saturday, April 28, 2012

The 10 Most Egregious Punditry Errors

As we all know by now the vast majority of political pundits (including yours truly) completely misread the recent Alberta election.

We all thought the Wildrose Party would bloom, but instead it got cut down by the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party lawn mower and then thrown on the compost heap of electoral failure.

What can we learn from this? I mean, what can we learn besides the fact that I am terrible when it comes to making up metaphors.

Well, one lesson we can learn from the Wildrose loss is the inherent dangers of making election predictions, or as I like to call them, "wild guesses".

Fortunately, however, there are ways to improve such guesses.

For one thing, instead of relying on public opinion polls to make a prediction, try using methods that are cheaper, easier and just as scientifically accurate, such as  throwing darts at a board or rolling a die or flipping a coin.

Mind you, even using those methods won’t absolutely ensure prediction success. The fact is predicting the future is hard.

Indeed, although the punditry failure in Alberta made headlines, it’s not the first time “experts” have been completely and utterly wrong.

I did a little historical research and discovered several examples of failed predictions.

Here are the ten most egregious:

“No Cabinet Minister will ever pay more than $14 for a glass of orange juice.”  -- 2005

“Now that Nazi Germany is defeated, one name that will never, ever be uttered again in the House of Commons is, Hitler.” -- 1945

“I have seen the Progressive Conservative Party’s future and his name is Joe Clark!”  -- 1979

“I have seen the Progressive Conservative Party’s future and her name is Kim Campbell!” --- 1993

“I have seen the Liberal Party’s future and his name is Stephane Dion.” -- 2007

“One thing is for sure, the NDP leadership convention will NOT be the most boring, horribly drawn out and technology-glitched event in Canadian history” – 2012

“The emergence of the Sun News Network will usher in a period of serene conviviality in Canada’s news media community.” – 2011

“A political party that wants to ensure an election victory should secure as its leader someone who has lived outside the country for 30 years and who also possesses a post-graduate degree from a prestigious American Ivy League university.:” -- 2009

“Now that Montreal has won the Stanley Cup, you can be sure we will see many, many more Canadian-based teams win the NHL championship.” --- 1993

“When it comes to fiscal responsibility the best thing you can do is purchase an untried, and vastly complicated piece of military hardware.” 2010.

So you see, even, highly trained and professional pundits have been wrong from time to time in the past.

Mind you, I am fairly certain experts will always get it right in the future.

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