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Predicting BI trends and saying you’re sorry

We forget most failed predictions quickly. If you make a bad one, you just say “let’s move on,” and you’re as good as moved on. But sometimes you meet the kind of guy I say hello to near my office—the kind professional forecasters hope they never meet.

When he and I get stuck in line together at the little grocery store, we talk mostly about the weather, and lately the forecasts for rain have been wrong. The other day he grumbled, “And they never apologize.”

The weatherpeople never apologize? I’d never heard that before. What if there are more of these guys out there—reading my trend predictions for 2009?

Last January, after of having to predict trends for 2008, I bought a book about forecasting—actually, fortune telling, which is similar. The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading (2005; Ian Rowland) is practically a how-to for would-be psychics. I read about it in a New Yorker article’s unflattering comparison of the FBI’s profiling operation with storefront psychics.

The trick, essentially, is in the phrasing. Say it so you’re right no matter what the truth is. It works because most consumers want to believe you. But you knew that.

In early 2009, when all the forecasts are all in, when the last drop has fallen, I’m going to put them all together to look at the trends foretold by all the trend-spotters. All in one bucket. Bucket of what? We’ll see.

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