Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Ehrlich Award For Wrong Predictions Goes To ...

Introducing the annual Ehrlich Award, which at the start of each year will be given to the "wrongest" published prediction I observe of or relating to the previous calendar year. (Of course, if I make a really stupid prediction of my own pertaining to this or any other year, I will happily self-nominate, and even if necessary self-award. )

There are a few groundrules - for instance the predictions need to be vaguely meaningful (in terms of being able to assess whether they have happened - this year's winner stretches that one sometimes), and secondly predictions that carry a stated assessment of chance of falsehood are not included unless that assessed chance is ludicrously low.  After all, even odds-on favourites do get beaten sometimes. 

The Ehrlich Award is named in (dis)honour of Paul Ehrlich whose lifetime achievements in the field of publishing wrong enviro-scare predictions (oh no, you're an "idiot" if you say they were "predictions"; they were actually only "scenarios") are almost as staggering as the excuses trotted out on behalf of all his false apocalypses.  Apparently, not only is it a hit predictively for Ehrlich fans if something vaguely like the prediction happened, or if it could still happen later, but even if nothing like it happened, that's a hit too, because it means people must have listened to the prophet's warnings and, for that reason alone, averted their ways from their sins.

If I'd been running an Ehrlich Award in 2011 I probably would have given it to Tasmanian energy, peak oil and climate change advocate Chris Harries, who on 24 February that year wrote:

"How much will Australians (Tasmanians) be paying for petrol by year’s end?
My prediction is towards the $2 per litre mark. $200 to ‘fill the tank’ within four years. I’m willing to lay bets."

This prediction seemed to be piggybacked off speculation at the time that the price of oil merely might hit such-and-such a level if an improbable combination of events occurred.   I bookmarked it, and when the first part of the prediction failed with the petrol price rising marginally, I challenged Harries to a bet on the second part without success.

Some worthy candidates

I won't even bother with the Mayan-calendar confusion end-of-world furphy.

In a tie for the bronze medal position are every pundit who predicted as fact that Julia Gillard would be gone as PM by the end of the year, and practically everything said by Tony Abbott about the impact of the carbon pricing scheme.  Lest that sound at all biased, practically everything said by Labor on the matter of a budget surplus is already a hot contender for the award relating to events in 2013 - and that's one area in which it looks like some of Joe Hockey's predictions could be accurate. (While I see no reason to doubt that Wayne Swan Did The Right Thing by ditching the surplus commitment even at the cost of validating a Hockey prediction, that a price so embarrassing even has to be paid at all is yet another damning indictment on the talent level of Labor's 2010 campaign and subsequent strategy.  The job of the 2013 Coalition attack-ad writers will not be difficult.)

The silver medal goes jointly to various Republicans and sympathisers who predicted steadfastly that Mitt Romney would win the US Presidential Election,even while methods that had done a particularly good job of forecasting the previous one were saying this was highly unlikely.  In this light I was especially impressed by the sterling efforts of the late, and also the fine form by Karl Rove who carried his own act through to maintaining on election night that Ohio had been called prematurely (when if anything it had been called late; it was ultimately carried by about 3%.)

And the winner is ...

A few years ago there was this little thing called the Global Financial Crisis.  People who had said it was coming were considered, for a while, to be interesting, in terms of what they might predict next.  But prediction, in the form of knowledge about the future, is not just about getting it right once or a few times.  It is about being right for a valid reason rather than just being lucky, and being right reasonably consistently.  If a person incessantly forecasts that a system will run into trouble, and it does run into trouble someday, that doesn't mean they knew what they were doing when they made their prediction.  Even a stopped clock gets the time right eventually, after all, but you wouldn't use it as a timepiece.

One figure in this category is a certain Gerald Celente, "trend forecaster".  Celente's form regarding the GFC and other things (from a long history of doomsaying at very high volume, much of it suitably ambiguous) was considered impressive enough that he scored widely panned mainstream media coverage on the ABC's supposed current affairs flagship Four Corners in 2010 for his views that there was still worse to come.

That there is still worse to come, economically speaking, on the grounds that the problems underlying the GFC were not actually fixed, is not a view that is within my powers to refute; I'll leave that discussion to the political economists.  But it's one thing to say a "second GFC" (or worse) might soon happen and another to put a very definite timeline on it.  And for whatever reason, 2012 AD attracted a lot of interest from people who were keen to put a dateline on a second crash. And Celente has been focused on 2012 for a long time (though it's far from the only past year he's made false predictions of radical political doom about.)

In 2008, Celente was reported  by the very friendly Infowars, or as I call it, Ignowars, as predicting the following for 2012:

" [..] America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts."

and more:

“We’re going to see the end of the retail Christmas….we’re going to see a fundamental shift take place….putting food on the table is going to be more important that putting gifts under the Christmas tree,” said Celente, adding that the situation would be “worse than the great depression”.

Virtually none of this has happened.  Yes, there has been the Occupy movement, yes there have been tax protests (hardly "revolts") by Tea Partiers and the like, but no revolution, and much the same people are still getting elected.  More of Celente's predictions from 2008-9 regarding 2012, a supposed year of watershed and massive transformation, are currently listed on Wikipedia here (if they get deleted for non-notability, check the talk page near the bottom). 

Generally, the projections can be divided into those that are hopelessly vague (such as that there would be major environmental problems) and those that have turned out to be false.  This even extends to psephology, with Celente projecting the rise of a third party in 2012.  In fact the wingnuts who might have supported such a party generally either ran for or supported the Republicans, and I don't think the 1% for the comparatively saner Libertarians really counts!

More recent articles show that Celente was still banging on about 2012 at the end of 2011.  While it takes no genius to declare that in any given year there will be many small laws passed worldwide that unjustly and in generally small degrees inhibit expression on the internet and elsewhere (see item 9), or that there will be further trends towards alternative energy, none of the really dramatic developments expected by Celente actually happened in 2012.  If there is a "climax" to everything he and other economic doomsayers have been talking about, then we're still waiting for it. 

The above merely scratches the surface of a vast volume of excitable Celente predictions about the year 2012.  A simple Google search for "Gerard Celente 2012" will bring up more of it than you can poke a stick at. 

Celente is a perennial favourite among what I call the ignomedia - Ignowars, Prison Planet, Bilderberg obsessives, 9/11 "truthers", the Ron Paul fanbase and so on - a haphazardly right-wing movement (which claims unconvincingly to be "libertarian" and beyond politics-as-normal), driven by conspiracy theories and doomsaying.  What I find interesting is that Celente is factually wrong in a quite similar way to that in which Ehrlich is factually wrong, but many of the ignoheads would consider Celente a hero and Ehrlich an accessory to one-world-government enviro-fascism.

But less this be just a routine exercise in bashing these soft targets, I will point out that there is more than enough evidence out there that the mainstream media considers Celente notable enough to deserve reporting (Four Corners is a long long way from an isolated case), just as mainstream newspapers continue to publish astrology columns and pseudoscientific quackery on health and dream interpretation.  I make no finding in defence of the mainstream over their coverage of Celente, and suggest instead that the mainstream media and the ignomedia are too often the same as each other, are sometimes as bad as each other, and certainly deserve each other when it comes to apocalyptic nonsense such as this.

Anyway Gerald Celente is the 2012 winner of this site's annual Ehrlich Award for Wrong Predictions.  And I predict he will keep on making them, provided he remains active in his current field, and that there will always be both ignosheep and mainstream "sheeple" who are fool enough to listen. 

The race is now on for 2013 ... which according to Celente will be "The Year of the Boogie", in which we presumably party like we probably always have, til the lights go out like they were supposed to last year.  World War 3 within four years, apparently, because there are all these little wars in the world (again, like there always have been).  Some "things" are even going to get worse and then there are going to be improvements.  Startling stuff!

He's probably right about the partying.

(I hesitate to predict extreme loopiness in the comments section to this post in case the likely author decides not to comment just to prove me wrong! Or worse still, comments sanely!)


  1. If only you were to scrutinise your own media with the same cherry picking zeal !
    What on earth is the point youre trying to make ?
    That certain media outlets made wrong predictions ? Oh my .
    If you analysed mainstream media you would find that their information was either small,tiny or micro picture , relative trivia , or outright propaganda .
    But no , that doesn't concern you . What concerns you is finding faulty predictions .
    Could you please reflect on where and why you place your energies the way you do , in regard to a sense of priority and importance .
    I sincerely hope this is not the best you can come up with to attack the superior alt. media over the dangerous laughing stock mass media .

  2. ps.
    celente for all his bluster and false predictions , is still far more accurate and more deeply revealing than all msm put together .
    And that is the point you cannot grasp .

  3. you canna get anymore sane than that boyo ;)

  4. forget predictions , how about which media reports more deeply and accurately history and current events !?!!
    Which one KB ?
    ALT or MSM ?
    If you choose MSM , you can debate me right here .

  5. for balance perhaps you'd like to show also celente's correct forecasts ( beyond that of a stop watch naturally ;))

  6. And yes you do pick on soft targets like showman celente , rather than the big facts reported by alt but not msm . That's the crux of the matter . Not giving a one-sided account of your winner , the hypey-showman-slight clown !

  7. Cmon Kev lets debate the level of informedness of ALT and MSM !

  8. I have no ability to merge posts on this site. You'll just have to ensure everything has been dribbled before hitting "send".

    My own media? What, the independent psephosphere?

    "And yes you do pick on soft targets like showman celente" [..] "celente for all his bluster and false predictions" - Not what you were saying on a certain forum where you have never criticised him in the slightest in even one of your numerous mentions; for instance telling me "gerald has an excellent record".

    It's funny; you decry political-party oppositions as fake because they are (supposedly) the same as each other and neither is where it's really at, but cannot see that this genuinely applies to MSM vs your so-called (but not really) "alt"-media.

    Oh, and please remember Standing Orders: no block capitals!

    1. Sure both medias make similar errors but youre allowing that to obscure the big picture which is that one of those medias informs far more deeply and revealingly than the other !

  9. "I have no ability to merge posts on this site. You'll just have to ensure everything has been dribbled before hitting "send"."

    There's no need to be cheeky KB .
    Using terms like "dribbling" only makes you look impotent when they are not substantiated

    "My own media? What, the independent psephosphere?"

    Now you're being precious princess . You know damn well you are a gate-keeping centrist for the mainstream status quo . Please do not treat your readers as fools .

    " "And yes you do pick on soft targets like showman celente" [..] "celente for all his bluster and false predictions" - Not what you were saying on a certain forum where you have never criticised him in the slightest in even one of your numerous mentions; for instance telling me "gerald has an excellent record"."

    He was mentioned a few times as being one of several "superior to msm" commentators . This particular context didn't arise previously or i would have said the same . Again you make no mention of his successes except to erroneously dismiss them( ~stopped clock) .

    "It's funny; you decry political-party oppositions as fake because they are (supposedly) the same as each other and neither is where it's really at, but cannot see that this genuinely applies to MSM vs your so-called (but not really) "alt"-media. "

    Sure both medias make similar errors but youre allowing that to obscure the big picture which is that one of those medias informs far more deeply and revealingly than the other !

    What i refer to alt media is that which is not major tv stations , radio and newspapers . All of which are online , yes . However Alt media is only online ( bar the very rare exceptions eg. ch31 showing an icke lecture or am band radio playing the alex jones show ) and is marked by the fact it questions " official and/or mainstream narratives "

  10. "Oh, and please remember Standing Orders: no block capitals!"

    talk about state police society!

  11. see comment at January 24, 2013 at 2:39 am ;)

  12. Can't see any comment with that time/date combination, though perhaps my eyes just glazed over at the sight of all that block-capped ignobabble!

    As a general comment I can't be bothered wading through links just on the off-chance they are relevant and have disallowed a bunch of your other comments for that reason. If it's relevant you should be able to at least summarise in your own words.

  13. Yes they deleted it , which is pretty pathetic .
    First i post this : " An appraisal : " and it's deleted . Now its giving me a convoluted error message when trying to re-post .

    The other stuff i sent you , is for your own enlightenment especially the work of Professor Lance deHaven-Smith .

  14. ok , well i've tried to alert readers to your blog spot the best i can , as you can see there !

  15. They snipped your link! Bootlicking centrist gatekeepers!

    Anyway, thanks for posting it. I've been curious as to how much attention my diss of Celente might attract if his supporters were aware of it, but can't be bothered waving it about in front of them myself.

  16. There is a distinct lack of real debate between opposing ideas in public spaces.
    This itself is a rarely discussed narrative !

  17. ok , posted your link on his site !


    Any response from you i will gratefully forward to the author
    thank you ,
    and keep giving it to our no 1 enemy the MSM !

  19. Here's his response today !!! :

    Gerald Celente
    Dr. Kevin Bone Ham: Listen up you little wanker. In 2010 when I made that forecast, had no inside knowledge that the Fed's were pulling off an inside deal to pump trillions of dollars to bail out banks around the world. That's right...information that became public knowledge three years after they did it.

    Listen up Dr. Bone Ham: I had no idea that the banks were rigging the LIBOR rate. LIBOR? Are those 5 letters beyond your comprehension? You know...the $300 trillion of contracts from mortgages and student loans to interest-rate swaps, etc. ... or maybe you can't count that high. Or maybe you had your nose up the assholes that were rigging the game Bone Ham so you let it slide.

    Me, the winner of your bullshit wrong prediction list? You're way off base. You should have picked Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Feds who got the entire Panic of '08 wrong while I predicted it in 'O7 you little weasel. That's right Dr. Boner. Read the Fed minutes that were just released after being hidden from the public for five years. I got it right and every one of them got it wrong. But a little shit like you would never offend those you bow down to.

    Dr. Bonham? Try Dr. Shit! Another low-life suck up. A disgrace of a human being.
    Gerald Celente


    I will happily forward your response to this if you so desire .

  20. So basically what he's saying (amid the laughably feeble abuse, the playground-level name-games and the spurious estimates of my height!) is that he got things wrong because he didn't have information necessary for getting them right. Which means he was not in a position to forecast them with any reliability, and hence should not have attempted to do so. And it very likely means he is wrong about much of what he is forecasting now for much the same reason.

    (I'm assuming the post is genuine. Couldn't find it on the publicly viewable portion of his Facebook site - I decline to have a Facebook account - and didn't have an unusual number of hits in off Facebook today.)

  21. It was a pvt message sent to him on his fb page , so would not be publicly viewable .
    I of course cannot prove it was definitely GC but , it was his official page , so it either must be him or someone he trusts enough to respond on his behalf .

  22. Gerald's record of predictions has been good enough , to be hired by wall st , and he is simply giving you sound reasons why his predictions there went awry . Should he stop predicting , just because he could not predict the highest level fraud imaginable ?!

  23. I'm doubtful that Wall St's hiring decisions are a valid argument from authority!

  24. and you didnt answer my question !

  25. also , in your opinion who is the best predictor ?

  26. "I'm doubtful that Wall St's hiring decisions are a valid argument from authority! " which authority would be more valid ?

  27. I disposed of the pretext of the question. My point about valid arguments from authority is that while arguments from authority are always formally invalid, they have a special form of empirical invalidity if we know that the authority in question has got it wrong in major ways before. And we know well that actors in markets are fallible and that markets collectively are fallible, so hearing that someone making market decisions has hired a given person for advice in no way shows they knew what they were doing when they did so.

    Aside from the question of whether Celente has any special level of reliable predictive talent at all (once we remove his ambiguous predictions and just include those that are concrete), the core issue here is about projecting uncertainties using language that implies certainty, that states that things *will* happen. It's just a bad idea to write like that. I predict that the Liberal Party will win the next Tasmanian state election, but I'm not 100% certain it will happen, so I try to avoid writing "The Liberal Party will certainly win the next state election". Instead I say that I think it's very likely and try to put a rough figure on it, like, say, 90%.

    If I make a lot of 90% chance predictions and about 90% of them come true while 10% of them don't, I'm doing well. If they all always come true, I'm doing too well. If, on the other hand, I go around saying that all sorts of things "will" happen, and 10% of them don't, then I'm passing myself off as more reliable than I am, and encouraging people not to trust me.

    I have no idea who is the "best predictor" of the sort of things Mr Celente tries to predict.

  28. That is perhaps why( to a 90% surety level ;) ) you are a psephologist and Celente is a world famous predictor ! .. he goes all in .. and hits enough targets for him to gain access to a myriad of high profile stages !

  29. so you have no idea who the best predictor is of the sort of things Mr Celente tries to predict , but you are certain he wins the Erlich Award ........... are you really knowledgeable and qualified to judge , given that basis ! ?


  30. Would have thought it was obvious even to you that the Award refers to bad predictions rather than good ones, and also that it refers to specific predictions relating to a given year.

  31. You miss my point , which was , how can you pick the worst predictor of the year , without knowing the best ? ie. it shows a lack of knowledge in a sphere in which you are choosing winners !
    its like say , picking the the worst footballer in the AFL , without an idea about what and who constitutes the best . If you are only looking at one side of the spectrum , how can you determine the overall sliding scale comparison in which you're operating ?

  32. Again, the award is for the worst prediction(s) that I noticed, not the worst predictor. And it is often possible in sporting contexts to be confident of which is the worst team in a competition long before it is clear which is the best.

  33. But , the worst predictor = the person who made the worst predictions ,
    and you awarded the Erlich to the person that made the " worst predictions" ie. in this context , the worst predictor !

    my point was how can one be confident in one half of the spectrum and not the other , and wouldn't this limit the ability to judge that particular half , because its an incomplete scale/spectrum ?

  34. ok, they have now changed their banner to read " fan site " so in all likelihood that was NOT the real Gerald Celente .
    I posted this publicly viewable question : " In private messages , i assume its not the real GC responding , is that right ? "

  35. I rejected a post for containing unnecessary block caps, defaming Margaret Thatcher while failing to play "Tramp The Dirt Down" in the background, and general frothy wibble but the relevant section was:

    "received pvt message from GC FB site at 1am EST :

    Gerald Celente
    Of course I am!

    IN RESPONSE to question a couple of days ago asking if it was the real GC .

    i thanked him for his response and asked if he wished to continue the dialogue but understand if not ."

  36. I just sent this to him :

    " I just wondered is it usual for a celebrity or high profile person to operate from his fan page rather than say his own non-fan page ? "

  37. Celente has had problems with "imposter" sites, which may explain the "official fan page" wording. Certainly that Facebook site is linked off his official webpages so either it's him or, much less probably, someone he tacitly authorises to pretend to be him.


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