Social science experts appear no better at predicting future social trends than laypeople. 

The world often turns to experts to help predict what might happen in the future, but it turns out experts are not magicians, and might be no better than any regular person at predicting trends in social changes. 

In a recent study, Australian and international researchers challenged social scientists in two “forecasting tournaments” to submit monthly forecasts for a year on a variety of social trends such as political polarisation, racial bias or well-being. 

They found that social scientists’ forecasts were on average no more accurate than those of simple statistical models or the combined forecasts of a sample from the general public. 

However, scientists were more accurate if they had scientific expertise in the specific area. 

The authors say that despite common beliefs that social science experts are better equipped to accurately predict these trends than non-experts, the current findings suggest that social and behavioural scientists have a lot of room for growth. 

The full study is accessible here.