History is one of investors’ greatest teachers, offering rich lessons and valuable guiding principles. But this aspect of investing is a level playing field — the past is “open access”. The distinction of the skilled investor lies in the discipline of applying the lessons and principles from history to the future. As Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the greatest ice-hockey player yet, eloquently puts it: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

However, in applying Gretzky’s principle of figuring out the future, a material danger immediately presents itself in the form of forecasting. The seduction of forecasting is the precision with which it parades, and the confidence that forecasts instil in decision makers. Yet the risk — indeed, the tragedy — is that people are overwhelmingly weak in this “exact science”. As David Epstein noted in a recent article in The Atlantic: “The track record of expert forecasters … is dismal. In business, esteemed (and ...

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