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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's Crystal Ball

Updated on November 11, 2015
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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's Crystal Ball

Until reading "Is Iran going to build a bomb?" in today's NY Times Magazine I'd never heard of Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. Since the subject of the article is of more than passing interest to me, it was the first article I read. Also, The name Bruce Bueno de Mesquita caught my eye. I've provided a link to this interesting article below.

Bueno de Mesquita is a professor of applied game theory at New York University and a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is also a consultant to the CIA. His predictions reportedly are usually more accurate than those of CIA staffers. Since the early 1980s the CIA has hired Bueno de Mesquita to perform more than 1,000 predictions.

How does he make the predictions? Not with a crystal ball but rather he analyzes the issues at great length, gathering information about the individuals who are likely to influence the event under study--about their attitudes on the issue and their estimated power to influence the particular event. He assigns numbers to the players from 0 to 200 and plugs the information into his computer where he applies his proprietary game theory software.

On the issue of the likelihood of Iran building a nuclear bomb Bueno de Mesquita identified 90 individuals and organizations with an interest or influence on the question, ranging from Khamenei, Amahdinejad and Iranian hardliners to the U.N. to the U.S. to Israel and assigned each a number between 0 and 200, with 0 representing "no nuclear capacity at all" and 200 representing a nuclear test. Bueno de Mesquita then pushed the button his computer, and out popped the answer.

The outcome changes over time, beginning at 160, indicating likely bomb making, but declines over time to 118, meaning that Iran will not make a nuclear bomb.

The NYTimes Magazine article linked below provides considerably more detail on how Bueno de Mesquita reached this conclusion and on his career as a modern Nostradamus. It's a fascinating story.

The result

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita "Predicting the Future"

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    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      cliff 

      7 years ago

      the question is how do we as a people demand that our so called "leaders" listen to and base their decisions on these types of men and their wisdoms.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is pretty smart.

    • profile image

      pantelo panteli 

      7 years ago

      27/02/2011...he pedicts right for iran. mid 2010 the rating was up to 180 and now is close to 120 with the stuxnet virus that crashed their centrifuges..i believe in him..great scientist

    • profile image

      Ever Blue 

      8 years ago

      I predict Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, his books, and game theory in general will be a big success. I predict it will become the way business gets done in a lot of future arenas.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Self interest is central to CIA consultant Bueno de Mesquita's analyses and predictions:

      Yes, you read that correctly. On Page 15 of “The Predictioneer’s Game,” Bueno de Mesquita equates Mother Teresa with the likes of Mohamed Atta.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Me too. Thanks for your comment.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      9 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I sure hope he's right on this one!

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