Wizards Rule! Join the Good Judgement Project

The Good Judgement Project is a large-scale, government-funded prediction game. Similar to the markets where you can bet on who’s gonna be elected president, but with no actual money. You can read more about it in this Freakonomics article from a few years ago.

The project only accepts a limited number of participants at a time, because participating includes free, ongoing training on becoming a better prognosticator. You see, the researchers behind the GJP have actually distilled prediction down to a science, and they’re happy to share it with you.

Perfectly predicting the future still requires a crystal ball, but their training has helped me realize that good forecasting is a skill that one can cultivate, with practice and guidance. In other words, anyone can become a wizard.

I’ll give you a little peak into what I’ve learned: non-wizards tend to focus on the unique qualities of a situation, but wizards increase their forecasting accuracy by abstracting the situation and looking at outcomes of similar past situations. This is called reference class forecasting, and it also involves learning how to reframe problems and hunt for the right information.

Forecasting is a really awesome talent to have, so I’m totally pumped about leveling up.  The GJP is open for enrolment now. Register if you want to become more wizardy: http://www.goodjudgmentproject.com/

Just a heads-up,  registration includes a timed knowledge test that is rather rigorous. It mostly covers politics and current-events, and also includes brain-teasers and a few “personality test” questions. Nobody ever said becoming a wizard would be easy.

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How to Plan an Awesome Retreat – Step 2: Don’t ask for permission

IMG_9815 This step is more of an anti-step, or a “what not to do.” But sometimes it’s just as important to not-do something as it is to do something. Just ask Miles Davis.

The next phase in the journey is probably where most people get stuck in the doldrums: getting the “green light” to go ahead with a retreat.

Here’s the secret: you’re a grown-up* and you don’t need anyone else’s permission to do things any more. You get to wake up every morning, decide what you’re going to do, and face the consequences! Most people (including me) decide they’re going to spend the day working for the man, but ultimately it is a choice.

One day not too long ago, I decided it would be fun to plan a retreat for folks who are into frugality, badassity, and generally being awesome. And since I thought it out loud on the internet (in the Mr Money Mustache forums), it’s preserved for the world to see. Forever.

MMM had just hosted a very private and very expensive retreat in Ecuador, and wrote about duplicating the event on a more modest scale all around the country.

His biggest takeaway from the trip was “you really give your life a boost by meeting the right people.” I thought, why do I need to wait for him to get around to planning a Seattle event? I’ll just start planning one myself. It doesn’t take any special superpowers to arrange a weekend of “meeting the right people.”

I don’t have much more to say about this “anti-step” so maybe this can serve as a segue to book I recently read that was really inspiring, and very relevant.

The book is about how the internet is making traditional “gatekeepers” obsolete. It’s called Without Their Permission, by Alexis Ohanian.

Ohanian is the creator of Reddit, one of the world’s most popular websites, which he created with a few bucks, a ton of elbow grease, and a metric boatload of gumption.

The book is part memoir, part business how-to, and part political manifesto. The common thread of the book is that the internet is a giant filtering system, and as long as it’s kept free and open, the coolest stuff will get filtered to the top, regardless of who created it. (That also happens to be the gist of Reddit)

On the internet, the differentiating factor is no longer money, connections, or birthright. It’s “who gives the most damns” about their work, according to the author.

Ultimately, the book’s about no longer needing to ask permission before creating a webpage, or starting a business, or planning a retreat.

So stop reading this, turn off the laptop and start giving a damn! What are you going to build? Let me know, I’d love to help.

* Probably? If you’re not, do your parents know you’re reading this blog?

How to Plan an Awesome Retreat – Step 1: Get pumped about something

camp cabinAlong with a few internet friends, I’m planning a retreat for fans of Mr Money Mustache and JD Roth, two awesome bloggers. It’s going down in the Spring of 2014, here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

This isn’t the first retreat I’ve planned, but it has been a while. As a teenager, I planned a retreat for my youth group. Like any large event, it went off with only a few snags, that were mostly invisible to participants. I still get ribbed by old friends about the schedule for the weekend. I made a silly one as a rough draft and turned it in as a placeholder. Whoever was in charge of photocopying thought it was the real deal, so they made copies of it and handed it out to all attendees.

What that old retreat and this new one have in common is that in order to put in the time and energy to making any dream into a reality (whether it’s a retreat, or a startup, or making balloon animals), it’s essential that you pick something you’re really passionate (or pumped) about. For me, that’s financial badassity. Or whatever you want to call it.

I’m gonna do a few posts while I figure this retreat-planning thing out (again). At least I know how not to make retreat schedules this time around.

Leave a comment if you’re interested in attending and want the deets when they’re available. Or if you have questions about planning your own retreat.