The Predictioneer

Highlights from
The Predictioneer's Game 
by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

The Predictioneer

Highlights by David Willden

The Author Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has an impressive background:

  • Doctorate from the University of Michigan
  • Political science professor at New York University
  • Senior fellow at Stanford University
  • Partner with Mesquita & Roundell, LLC, a consulting firm that assists the U.S. intelligence community, businesses, and policy makers

Bruce writes that "accurate predication relies on science, not artistry---and certainly not the sleight of hand. It is a reflection of the power of logic and evidence, and testimony to the progress being made in demystifying the world of human thought and decision." 

The author qualifies his model and approach by sharing that "according to a declassified C.I.A. assessment, the predictions for which I've been responsible have a 90 percent accuracy rate." Later on he states that he has"hit the bull's key about twice as often as the government's experts who provided me with data."


Self-interest is the basis for the game theory models used. There are four key factors that are employed in the model:

  • Who are the important players?
  • What does each player really want and what would they settle for?
  • How much do they care?
  • How influential are the players and how likely are they influence others?

The author offers a practical scenario - buying a car

You show up to the dealership. In game theory, showing up at a dealership puts you at a disadvantage in finding a good bargain. It is a signal that you are a captive consumer who will like make a purchase. Once at the dealership, a game is used to maximize the changes that you purchase a car. Changes are you will.

If you follow a few simple steps, you are more likely to get a good deal. First of all, know what model and features you want. Second, call several dealers and tell them you plan to purchase a car by the end of the day and are shopping around. Tell them exactly what model and features you are looking at, and ask what price they can give you. They will try and sell you extras. Be clear ahead of time of what you want. Why call over the phone? A phone dismisses many of the body language messages you convey - even if you don't know it. Call several dealers.

Book Contents

  1. What will it take to put you in this car today?
  2. Game theory 101
  3. Game theory 102
  4. Bombs Away
  5. Napkins for peace: defining the question
  6. Engineering the future
  7. Fast-forward the present
  8. How to predict the unpredictable
  9. Fun with the past
  10. Date to be embarrassed!
  11. The big sweep: the history of Worms, or Bali High, Bali Low

The Predictioneer