There are three basic forms of predictions that I make, which given this recent podcast I thought I'd better make clear.
First, there are predictions I make regarding the overall process of evolution and the cycle of change. These are based upon causation, correlation and past testing and I'm confident enough in this to describe the model as a weak hypothesis.
Second, there are predictions I make regarding specific industry actors. These are based upon my opinion and naturally any outcomes depends upon the strategy of the actor, the impact of others and economic events. These predictions are therefore inherently uncertain. I'm not confident in these at all as they are purely conjecture that I consider likely.
Lastly, there are predictions I make regarding my on going exercise of prediction testing. Here I'm deliberately aiming for a 50% prediction rate of the headline predictions which are based upon a hundred plus components. This is purely an experiment I'm running to see if I can improve some general models I have. Overall, this experiment is simply an idea at the moment which I'm refining.
For reference, the general scale I use is as follows -
Idea = anything you think of. It's an idea. No Confidence.
Conjecture = idea + some supporting data demonstrating merit. Extremely Low Confidence
Reasoned Hypothesis = idea + initial data + correlation (through experimental observation) + initial models of causation. Low Confidence
Weak Hypothesis = idea + initial data + correlation (supported by significant experimental observation) + causation + verification (either independent confirmations or prediction tests). Weak Confidence
Strong Hypothesis = Weak Hypothesis + large volume of confirming experimental data + significant independent observation (in the order of hundreds of). Reasonable Confidence
Theory = Strong Hypothesis + independent verification (in the order of many thousands of) + widespread acceptance by scientific community. High Confidence
Law = Theory + so much data + so much independent verification that we've stopped asking the question and will be genuinely surprised if someone shows us it's wrong. Extremely High Confidence