Roberts cites the Isaiah Berlin essay “The Fox and the Hedgehog” – a comparison often used by Tetlock himself – which divides thinkers into those “hedgehogs'” narrowly invested in a single topic and “foxes” with a wider, if shallower, range of experience. “Foxes” like him, Robert says, tend to be better forecasters. “They don't get attached to one particular narrative” and are able to adapt their viewpoints to incorporate any new information, unlike “hedgehog” thinkers, who often force new information into a pre-existing mental framework, or discard it if it seems to contradict their initial view.
In short, the problem with many experts is that they are hedgehogs. They have deep expertise in a narrow domain, but as a result, they also have a lot of biases. They have a strong attachment to certain pre-existing beliefs. The foxes are more open-minded. What else characterizes the superforecasters?
1. An ability to ask good questions
2. An ability to assimilate new information, even if it contradicts their initial view
3. An ability to use the scientific method to pose and test hypotheses
4. A reliance on data and not just intuition
5. A willingness to acknowledge their own lack of knowledge in certain areas