Michel Pireu Columnist

In an article published in the June/July 1980 issue of Technology Review, Scott Armstrong argued that while people are willing to pay heavily for expert advice — economists to tell us how the economy will change, stock analysts to forecast the earnings of various companies and futurologists to tell us what the future holds — the available evidence suggests that this money is poorly spent. But while Armstrong provided significant evidence to support the view that expertise is in fact useless in forecasting change, he also concluded that few people pay attention to this evidence; that, in fact "no matter how much evidence exists that seers do not exist, suckers will pay for the existence of seers". Armstrong’s hypothesis became known as the seer-sucker theory. Assuming it is true, is there any rational explanation why seemingly otherwise intelligent people would want to continue to purchase worthless information? Armstrong believes one likely explanation is that the person is not so m...

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