Why Opinions Are Overrated (even “expert” opinions)

The job of a pundit is to always have an opinion. When the camera comes on they can’t just sit there and be quiet, they have to say something. And that’s why you can’t trust their judgment. When someone is forced to talk that much they’re likely to say a lot of things that aren’t true.

Nate Silver did a study of nearly 1,000 predictions given by political pundits on a popular T.V. show. He found that they would have done just as good if they were flipping coins.

Silver also cited a 15-year study done by a professor at Berkeley. The experts in his survey had only done a little better than random chance. He also found that the worse performers were the ones most often featured in the media.

I’m a former hockey player and I’ve been following the game of hockey for almost 30 years. Most of the pundits on T.V. who comment about hockey are former professional players. They should be more knowledgeable about the game than me. Yet I often hear them say ridiculous things. It’s because they have to say something. They don’t have time to think it through. And when you talk as much as they do you’re going to be wrong a lot.

Don’t feel bad if sometimes you don’t have much say. Most people say too much. And don’t ignore your own judgment in favor of someone else’s just because that person talks a lot. Or because they sound confident. Qualifications don’t matter either. Advantage goes to the listener, not the talker. Listeners are learners. Talkers tend to be entertainers.