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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

"Superforecasters" have shown an uncanny knack for accurately predicting major events, including the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The fact that we need to take action now to change the future course of the pandemic underscores the need for accurate predictions. Adopting the techniques of superforecasters could help us better anticipate the curves of this crisis.

How it works: Superforecasting brings together teams of individuals to collectively predict the likelihood of future events.

  • Prognosticators in the media will often hedge their predictions by using verbal terms such as "likely" or "probably." "But that creates confusion, because those words might mean something different for you or me, or from today or tomorrow," says Warren Hatch, the CEO of the superforecasting company Good Judgement.
  • Superforecasters use probabilities, which provide precision and accountability.
  • That accountability extends to superforecasters' willingness to revise their predictions as new data flows in, and to keep a rigorous record of those revisions.

"Too often experts make one-and-done forecasts," says Hatch, who adds this puts them at a disadvantage in a new and fast-changing situation like the pandemic.

By the numbers: As of Aug. 11, some of the superforecasting communities' predictions include...

Of note: Superforecasters accurately predicted early on that MLB would hold its first game between June 1 and July 31 (it was July 23), and that Disney World would reopen between July 1 and September 30 (it was July 11).

The bottom line: We depend on experts who often have a vested interest in their predictions. Superforecasting offers an empirically grounded alternative at a moment when the future feels more uncertain than ever.

Go deeper: America's flying blind on its coronavirus response

Go deeper

The Thanksgiving time bomb

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are at new peaks, cities and states are weighing second lockdowns, and flu season is upon us — but we're all looking the other way.

Why it matters: Pandemic fatigue has set in and the nation has collectively stopped caring just in time for the holiday season. This Thanksgiving could be catastrophic for public health.

Nov 19, 2020 - Sports

NFL expands "intensive" coronavirus restrictions to all teams

Defensive end Arden Key and offensive tackle Sam Young at Allegiant Stadium on Nov. 1. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The NFL announced Wednesday that all 32 teams must follow the league's "intensive" coronavirus restrictions for the rest of the season starting this Saturday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after the Las Vegas Raiders placed seven more players on its coronavirus reserve list, bringing the total to 11, according to ESPN.

Nov 18, 2020 - Health

Over a quarter-million people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The United States topped 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday as infections soar in nearly every pocket of every state in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: The sharp rise in the number of cases and fatalities has accelerated calls for government action. Wednesday's news exceeded infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci's March prediction in which he said "we should be prepared" that COVID-19 could kill 240,000 Americans.