Doing social science is hard. It is one thing to run a controlled experiment in a laboratory to explore how molecules interact with each other, and quite another to try to make sense of the interactions of hundreds or thousands or even millions of people running around and doing their thing in the real world. As a result, social scientists tend to shy away from predictions and concentrate on explanation. That being said, the runaway success of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight election forecasts shows that there clearly is a demand for predictions from social scientists, so I thought that on this — the last day of 2013 — I would try my hand at a few forecasts for the coming year:
1) Pundits will describe the 2014 U.S. mid-term elections as “earth-shattering”, “a total game-changer” and a “stinging rebuke to the President”, the result of which will be a Democrat in the White House, and the Republicans controlling at least one house of Congress for the next two years.
2) At some point during the run-up to the elections, a Congressional candidate will be put on the defensive about his or her foreign policy credentials and will try to charmingly mangle the name of several Central Asian states simultaneously by noting something along the lines of “it’s not like I’ve spent a lot of time in Uzkyrblekistan”.
3) Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) will shatter the annual record for tweets by a sitting member of the Congress. It will then turn out that he will actually have broken his own record, established in the two months he served in the Senate in 2013.
4) At some point in some country, a lot of people will unexpectedly start protesting against something somewhere. This will immediately be denounced as “not a real social media revolution”.
5) The term “Grexit” will briefly resurface during discussions about Greece’s future in the European Union, but will quickly be supplanted by the more pressing issue of Britain’s future in the European Uniion. In a surprising turn, Britain will remain in the European Union due to the inability of anyone to actually pronounce “Grbrexit” with a British accent.
6) The existence of life on Mars will be conclusively proven for the first time when New York University signs an agreement to establish its newest campus, NYU-Mars, with local authorities.
Data Driven Blogging
7) David Leonhardt’s new data driven New York Times Web site, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Wonky Monkeys, opens to great critical acclaim.
8) The Mets will win the World Series, because, hey, if I don’t say it here it is not like anyone else will….
Happy New Year from The Monkey Cage!