We’ve seen Bruce Bueno de Mesquita here on this blog before for his work using game theory to predict political events. Now he’s written a book, The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future. The book has garnered pretty good reviews from the in the NY Times and Boston Globe, among others, although most reviews admit to being uneasy with the idea that human behavior could ever be predictable to the degree claimed by the author. Which is understandable, especially since one of Bueno de Mesquita’s bedrock axioms is that those humans are behaving selfishly, or at least `looking out for number one’ with any number two a distant afterthought. (The book’s subtitle: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future.)
Whatever your reaction, Bueno de Mesquita’s approach seems to work: the book documents successful predictions of all sorts of things, from naming the successor to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeni to foretelling the downfall of Pakistan’s Pervez Musharaff. The author has also been retained on a number of occasions by large corporations to weigh in on their decision-making, and the book sports recommendations from former Nobel laureates, a former CIA director and a former Secretary of State. And Bueno de Mesuita was recently bestowed an even higher honor: he was interviewed on the Daily Show.