Forecasts and Contingencies: From Methodology to Policy
Schrodt, Philip A.
A "folk criticism" in political science maintains that the discipline
should confine its efforts to explanation and avoid venturing down the
dark, dirty, and dangerous path to forecasting and prediction. I argue
that not only is this position inconsistent with the experiences of other
sciences, but in fact the questions involved in making robust and valid
predictions invoke many core methodological issues in political analysis.
Those issues include, among others, the question of the level of
predictability in political behavior, the problem of case selection in
small-N situations, and the various alternative models that could be used
to formalize predictions. This essay focuses on the problem of
forecasting in international politics, and concludes by noting some of the
problems of institutional culture -- bureaucratic and academic -- that
have inhibited greater use of systematic forecasting methods in foreign
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