World leaders gathered in New York are being lambasted by the UN with predictions of dire climate consequences if they fail to institute costly policies against CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, 20 months ago Scott Armstrong challenged Al Gore, an advocate of the UN forecasts, to bet the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's projection that global mean temperatures would be 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer in ten years time against the scientific benchmark forecast that there would be no change in global mean temperatures. Al Gore declined the bet but, had he taken it, he would have lost 18 out of the first 20 months of the bet. For graphs recording the predictions and outcome to-date see the TheClimateBet.com. See also the graph showing a third-party prediction market on who will win the bet; participants favor the scientific approach to forecasting global temperatures giving Armstrong a 73% chance of winning.
In a cheekily titled article--"Forecast: Next Year Will Arrive in 2010-ish"--Carl Bialik asks experts, including Foresight editor Len Tashman and ForPrin.com directors Scott Armstrong and Kesten Green, why forecasts for 2009 have been so wrong. His article is subtitled "Recession Clouded Crystal Balls in Many Industries, Prompting Predictors to Regroup, Change Strategies and Exercise Caution" signaling his disappointment. In their essay "How to Forecast for Recessions and Recoveries" (on ManyWorlds; original) Armstrong and Green suggest using a simple rule from Collopy and Armstrong's Rule-based Forecasting in order to avoid embarrassment: When a time series is identified as “contrary,” do not extrapolate a trend.
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The 2009 INFORMS Data Mining Contest is the second installment of a data mining contest that started last year in conjunction with the INFORMS conference. The contest again involves predictive problems for health care quality. The two tasks for this year's contest are: 1) modeling of a patient transfer guideline for patients with a severe medical condition from a community hospital setting to tertiary hospital provider and 2) assessment of the severity/risk of death of a patient's condition.
Predictions must be submitted by September 25. You may want to consider giving a talk at the Contest session at the INFORMS conference. Workshop acceptance will be based on successful submissions to the Contest. Contestants are encouraged to prepare a paper describing methods and insights to be considered for publication in a Special Issue in a data mining journal (to be determined). See the Contest site for more information.