Are we tarot readers in the business of predicting the future? Some readers claim they are. They explain that we may be no more accurate or inaccurate then weather forecasters and stock market analysts (surely more accurate than stock market forecasters!). Of course, this hasn’t been formally tested yet. So it might behoove us to get a little understanding of the overall field of forecasting. For instance, the International Institute of Forecasters at the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania has been developing theories, as well as testing and comparing different methods. Here’s how they define forecasting:

“Estimating in unknown situations. Predicting is a more general term and connotes estimating for any time series, cross-sectional, or longitudinal data. Forecasting is commonly used when discussing time series.”

So far tarot readings haven’t made the grade for their studies or even their listing tarot readings among the possible methods. Why should we be left out?

And here’s some information from the FAQ at forecastingprinciples.com:

Who can do forecasting?

“Anyone is free to practice forecasting for most products and in most countries. This has not always been true. Societies have been suspicious of forecasters. In A.D. 357, the Roman Emperor Constantius made a law forbidding anyone from consulting a soothsayer, mathematician, or forecaster. He proclaimed “…may curiosity to foretell the future be silenced forever.”

“It is sensible for a person practicing forecasting to have been trained in the most appropriate methods for the problems they face. Expert witnesses who forecast can be expected to be examined on their familiarity with methods.”

Aren’t forecasts wrong more often than they are right?

“This is a trick question. Some things are inherently difficult to forecast and, when forecasting numerical quantities, forecasters can seldom be exactly right. To be useful, a method must provide forecasts that are more accurate than chance. This condition can often be met, but one should not assume that it will be. A good forecasting procedure is one that is better than other reasonable alternatives.”

You might want to check where you think tarot belongs on the Methodology Tree.

Is it time that we begin to demand our place in the growing formal field of forecasting? Or, not?

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