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If you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous. ~ Malcolm Gladwell
For a list of failed predictions, see incorrect predictions.

A prediction (or forecast) is a statement about the way things will happen in the future.

CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , Disputed, See also , External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F

  • [Engineering concerns] the creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property."
  • As with anything else, there are good and bad ways to forecast.
    • Francis X. Diebold, Elements of Forecasting (4th ed., 2007), Introduction to Forecasting: Applications, Methods, Books, Journals, and Software

G - L

  • I have always believed that people have misjudged the accuracy of economic forecasting... During the 1980s and 1990s, I researched and applied methods of high frequency economic forecasting, to be used by themselves, and for objective establishment of initial conditions for longer range forecasts from structural dynamic models that carry forward the pioneering contributions of Jan Tinbergen.

M - R

  • A forecast can only be based on a diagnosis about current trends if it is to be based on something other than wishful thinking. This is why I was never a strong supporter of the distinction between forecasts and projections: our best forecasts are intelligent projections. Moreover, it turns out that learning about the diagnosis that underlies a forecast is often much more rewarding than learning about the forecast itself.
    • Edmond Malinvaud, "The Theory of Prices and Resource Allocation", in Economics Beyond the Millennium (1999), edited by Alan Kirman and Louis-André Gérard-Varet
  • Dynamic systems studies usually are not designed to predict what will happen. Rather, they're designed to explore what would happen, if a number of driving factors unfold in a range of different ways.

S - Z

  • Without precise predictability, control is impotent and almost meaningless. In other words, the lesser the predictability, the harder the entity or system is to control, and vice versa. If our universe actually operated on linear causality, with no surprises, uncertainty, or abrupt changes, all future events would be absolutely predictable in a sort of waveless orderliness.
    • L. K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press (2013) p. 280
  • The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.
  • Forecasting by bureaucrats tends to be used for anxiety relief rather than for adequate policy making.
  • This led me to the thought that it might be easy to pretend to be a Seer. After all, if one pretended to have visions of the far distant future, how would anyone know if they came true or not?
  • The intellectually aggressive hedgehogs knew one big thing and sought, under the banner of parsimony, to expand the explanatory power of that big thing to “cover” new cases; the more eclectic foxes knew many little things and were content to improvise ad hoc solutions to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.
  • It is my hope that in such a way we may again, as Marx claimed, find scientific arguments in the competition between various systems, but up-to-date scientific arguments rather than obsolete ones. This more fundamental research in economics deserves relatively more attention and resources than the more superficial versions of economic research directed at forecasting or analysing very short-term fluctuations in market prices, on which quite some money is being spent to-day.
    • Jan Tinbergen, "The Use of Models: Experience," (1969) Nobel-prize lecture.
  • The successes of modern control theory in the design of highly accurate space navigation systems have stimulated its use in the theoretical analyses of economic and biological systems. Similarly, the effectiveness of computer simulation techniques in the macroscopic analyses of physical systems has brought into vogue the use of computer-based econometric models for purposes of forecasting, economic planning, and management.
    • Lotfi A. Zadeh, Outline of a new approach to the analysis of complex systems and decision processes (1973) p. 28


  • Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
    • Attributed to Niels Bohr in Teaching and Learning Elementary Social Studies (1970) by Arthur K. Ellis, p. 431
    • The above quote is also attributed to various humourists and the Danish poet Piet Hein: "Det er svært at spå – især om fremtiden."
    • It is also attributed to Danish cartoonist Storm P. (Robert Storm Petersen), likely the source for Born and Hein.
    • The Swiss theologian Markus M. Ronner is likewise reported as a source.
    • A Danish citation website, lundskovdk-citater, has noted earlier occurrences of this quip, with the earliest one, albeit in a simpler form, in a 1918 article in the Norwegian magazine Samtiden by Fredrik Paasche: "It's a difficult thing to predict the future." (Norwegian: Det er en vanskelig sak å spå om fremtiden.)
    • Karl Kristian Steincke, a Danish politician, recalled in 1948 that the phrase was used during the 1935-1939 parliament, but he did not know who said it.

See also

Wikipedia has an article about: