In Brief

What are the books Dominic Cummings told aides to read?

PM’s most senior aide planning bootcamp to teach advisers ‘how to predict the future’

Dominic Cummings has ordered government advisers to prepare for an upcoming weekend bootcamp by reading two books that teach how to predict the future - and warn that “only the paranoid survive”. 

The prime minister’s closest aide told staff attending an away day on a Saturday next month that they must read Philip Tetlock’s Superforecasting, “a 350-page book about how historical patterns can be used to make accurate predictions about the future”, says The Times.

Cummings has also instructed the advisers to read High Output Management by Andrew Grove, the former chief executive of computer-chip manufacturer Intel, who “warns that success breeds complacency” and claims being paranoid is necessary to endure and prosper.

According to the Daily Mail, Cummings believes that reading the books will enable the aides “to make better decisions” in high-pressure situations.

Superforecasting was published in 2015 and details findings from the Good Judgement Project, which was co-created by Tetlock. “The study employed several thousand ordinary people as volunteer world event forecasters, who were pitted against each other in contests to create the most accurate forecast,” according to the newspaper.

In February, Cummings told journalists to read Tetlock’s book “instead of political pundits who don’t know what they’re talking about”.

His comments followed the resignation of Andrew Sabisky, a Downing Street adviser hired by Cummings who described himself as a superforecaster but got the boot after making controversial remarks about pregnancies, eugenics and race., as the BBC reported at the time.

Superforecasting pioneer Tetlock told the broadcaster that the practice should not be linked to a particular political point of view. Most people would want their leaders to be “informed by the most accurate possible estimates of the consequences of the options on the table”, he said.

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