The Seersucker Theory

“No matter how much evidence exists that seers do not exist, suckers will pay for the existence of seers.” – Scott Armstrong, professor and forecasting/marketing expert

Written nearly 40 years ago, Scott Armstrong’s piece for the U of Penn rings true still today. Armstrong cites research dispelling the belief that a deeper level of expertise equates to more accurate predictions about the future. In a variety of fields, from finance to medicine, expertise and accuracy are found to be unrelated.

For EHS professionals, this should inspire much thought on leading indicators, the return on investment of being an expert in solely EHS (or in any one field), and why we hire consultants.

What are we doing with lessons of the past and present? Are we instead setting aside hard-won education for promises of better forecasting?

If we fail to direct resources to solve today’s known challenges, what hope do we have for tomorrow’s unknowns?


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