William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Predictions 2013—Register Yours Today!

Time for our annual guessing game about what’s to come for 2013. The predictions we made for 2012 will be posted and analyzed tomorrow.

We have one week to enter our predictions, after which no further entries will be accepted. In previous years I had the temerity to include rules, each of which was violated, brutally and immediately. No holds barred this year. Predict anything you like. But if you want credit, give some indication how we can verify your forecast.

My predictions

Headlines from today: Moscow sees heaviest November snow in 50 years; wintry in Germany, central Europe and Down to -50C: Russians freeze to death as strongest-in-decades winter hits.

Ghoulish prediction: more human beings will die from cold than from heat in 2013. A safe bet, as the best evidence suggests this is usually true.

HHS prediction: via the Supreme Court, the mandate will be relaxed for employers and corporations self-describing as conscientious objectors.

Low-hanging-fruit economic prediction: the debt of the USA will soar to new heights.

Sober prediction, from (non-believer, conservative) George Will’s speech (pdf): De Tocqueville’s words will become truer than ever.

It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them. I do not question that, in an age of instruction and equality like our own, sovereigns might more easily succeed in collecting all political power into their own hands and might interfere more habitually and decidedly with the circle of private interests than any sovereign of antiquity could ever do…

I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world; our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression that will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives…

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

26 Comments

  1. The long awaited break up of the euro, (and the EU), will still not occur. Various governments, central banks and treasuries will conspire to keep the plates spinning and the balls in the air for another precarious twelve months. There will be few sighs of relief however, as these worthies contemplate attempting to do the same thing for another year.

    Similarly, the US and European economies will continue their anaemic “growth”, but all of this “growth” will be in the public sector. The private sector will make sporadic attempts to invest and grow, but a new tax here, a new regulation there, will stymie these half-hearted tries.

    In health news, a row will break out among scientists over whether the obesity epidemic is caused by a bacterium or by a poor lifestyle. For the moment the lifestylers will win, but their victory will soon be overtaken by events.

    The great global warming / climate change / climate extremes / whatever debate will rumble on, and while there will be no resolution, events – in the form of lower temperatures as well as increasingly dire economic prospects – will make the outcome moot.

    So basically, not much change.

  2. Predictions:

    In 2013 highway accidents will kill more people than assault weapons, yet, unbelievably, automobiles will not be outlawed.

    While scientific evidence grows that global warming, if it resumes, will not be catastrophic, the Summary for Policy Makers will be as alarmist as ever.

    Republicans will allow tax rates to automatically rise, as we go over the fiscal cliff, so that they can vote to lower those higher rates to a level which is greater than they are presently. The pledge to not vote to raise taxes will have been upheld. (h/t to John Hussman)

    Whatever bad happens, it is still George Bush’s fault.

  3. The sun will rise approximately 365 times, and every sunrise will be accompanied by a corresponding sunset.

    The planets will maintain their orderly procession around the sun.

    Energy and mass will hold their delicate balance.

    Evil will continue to sow the seeds of its own destruction, and the brilliant rays of truth, beauty and goodness, visible to all those who dare open their eyes, will continue to perforate the gloom and act as shining beacons to those brave enough to use them as their guides.

    So basically, not much change.

  4. No predictions, but uncanny how an article I just read on a different site gels with the de Tocqueville piece:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/31/biz_guilds_crush_newcomers/

    Happy 2013 everyone!

  5. Bill MicKibben will be discovered to be eating Meat Pizza’s cooked in a Coal fired oven he has installed in an old diesel powered Yellow School Bus that he uses to commune with the trees in remote Vermont valleys that never get any snowfall.

  6. Unless Melimoyu erupts later tonight, I only got 2/10 wholly right for 2012 (plus another 3 or 4 that seemed like spooky echoes from a parallel universe). Ho hum. Here’s 2013:

    1. Floods in Pakistan will again be tied to global warming.

    2. The floods will kill about a tenth of the number of people killed by terrorism in Pakistan (~3k innocents + ~2k activists + ~1K soldiers and police) but will get about ten times the coverage in the Guardian and other climactivist outlets.

    3. A young man will attack a school in the US, killing about ten people, mostly women and children.

    4. Young men will blow up about 100 schools in Pakistan, killing about ten people, mostly women and children.

    5. Towards the end of the year, John Vidal will visit a farm in Herefordshire.

    6. Costa Rica will either implode under the weight of the eco-plaudits conferred on it by the ‘international community’ or explode when the methane from its numerous hydro schemes catches fire. Whatever happens, this will be a tragedy for biodiversity.

    7. A member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group will either be jailed for a violent crime or be committed to a mental institution for his own protection.

    8. Bo Derek will visit Ecuador again.

    9. No Impact Man will announce that he is gay.

    10. Chile’s Mount Melimoyu will erupt.

  7. We fall off the fiscal cliff on 1/1 and no one notices. Okay, people notice that they are paying higher taxes, but GDP growth for the year will be positive.

  8. My predictions for a very turbulent 2013:
    1. Iran will perform a nuclear test shot in North Korea, resulting in a lot of stern tut-tutting.
    2. Syria will end up under the control of radical islamists of a sort favored by the Saudis. The situation will continue to be chaotic and bloody. Nothing of substance will be revealed about the Benghazi incident.
    3. Unimployment in the USA will spike savagely, although the government will do what it can to camouflage the problem with BS as the economy . starts to tank badly.
    4. Civil unrest of a kind and degree not seen since the Depression will appear in the USA and increase, driven by the unemployed, by a large group culturally and politically alienated from Washington, and by severe racial conflict.
    5. In response to 3 and 4, Texas, Louisiana, and perhaps other states will take strong measures to counteract federal influence and protect themselves. In 2013 this will be mostly political, but it lays the foundation for stiffer resistance later.
    6. Obama will sieze the moment and attempt to ram through gun control and various extreme leftist measures, sidestepping Congress and ignoring the Constitution.
    7. More “security” measures, government spying, and meddling with business and property. Fascist partnership of certain large enterprises with Obama regime starts to emerge.

    Sorry, but this is what my tea leaves say. Happy New Year anyway and God bless Canada!

  9. 2 cities will be attacked by islams, by using NBC warfair. Tens of thousands of people will be slaurted by the “peace and light religion of islam”. The United States WILL STILL NOT GO TO WAR against islam, even after these events. Sheriea law will be applied throughout America as a helping hand in killing the “living Constitution”. Christian churches will be attacked and set afire by islams and the church’s leaders will forgive islam for their acts. And tomatoes will be 5 dollars a pound. That is not all that will go bad in 2013, but its a start.

  10. Gary wasn’t too far off with his lone prediction, “Less than fifty percent of the legitimate predictions made here will be judged as correct.” This wasn’t good enough to take the prize.

    Nuts. Shoulda included a p-value with that prediction, I guess.

  11. The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013 will be awarded to a US citizen.
    The Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 will be awarded to a non-US citizen or organization.
    The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2013 will be awarded to a person from Europe.

  12. Coal will occur in China at 4 billion tonnes of ‘standard coal’.
    Peabody coal stock will end the year at $18.

  13. 1. Wiggins will win the Giro d’italia.
    2. Froome will win the Tour de France.
    3. ANTIFRAGILE: THINGS THAT GAIN FROM DISORDER by Taleb won’t make #1 on the NYT bestseller’s list but it should.
    4. Fewer fatalities will occur on Mt. Everest than last year.

  14. The Great Recession will deepen and continue, no great revelations about another European country going bankrupt though.

    Turkey will start to position itself as a counter to Iran in the ME, but just enough to get the idea out there.

    Patriots will lose superbowl. Red Sox will lose in post season on a wildcard. Yankees will not make it into post-season. British Football scandal involving leagues telling some teams to lose to more financially profitable teams.

    China will have violent protests against variously communism and capitalism, not enough to be called a revolt or uprising but too much to be ignored by the international community.

    Chile will emerge as the hot new SA economy predicted to become the USA of South America.

    Municipal bankruptcies in the US will take off, expect over 20 significant ones by the end of the year.

  15. 1. Winter in the Northern Hemisphere will not end till mid June.

    2. First week of September will be the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest for 200 years.

    3. Winter will start early in N. Hemisphere on September 28 2013.

    4. A volcanic eruption off the coast of Antarctica will cause some public unrest at the end of the year.

    5. China and Japan will come to arms over some insignificant South China Sea islands.

    6. Someone shoots at the US President – FBI hugely criticized.

    Otherwise it will be a below normal, eventless year.

  16. In 2013, with the city Detroit finding it has no support of a winning MLB team, has announced it will be relocating. Current choice is San Francisco. Concord, MA fell out of the running after its ban on plastic water bottles which demonstrated Concord’s lack of common sense it still pales against SF’s lack.


    Just out of curiosity, what exactly is wrong with plastic water bottles? The complaint seems to be they’re expensive. So are Ferrari products? So what?

  17. Happy New Year!

    Contrary to the myth that the number 13 brings bad luck, Year 2013 will be an everything-is-better year. So none of the above doom and gloom predictions will come true.

    Detroit will make a comeback, so is American economy partly due to the increasing number of rich people in China who prefer products made in USA.

    The debt-to-GDP ratio will decrease, though the ratio of my gray hair to regular hair will increase.

  18. A scientific art historian will discover that the Mayan calendar neglected to include leap years so it actually ends on February 14th 2013. Confused lovers will flee to high places and …

  19. 1. The drought will continue in the Midwest.

    2. The government and the Fed will continue to maintain a zero-interest-rate policy by printing money (QE4, 5, 6…).

    3. As a result of #1 and #2, inflation in food prices will be even worse in the coming year. By the end of the year, $200/week or more will be considered normal for groceries for a small family. Americans will eat less beef and more chicken (statistics will show the # of head of beef cattle declining).

    4. At least one U.S. state will declare bankruptcy, but probably not “officially”. Instead they will start paying state employees with IOUs, defaulting on their bonds, in the interest of “fairness” by declaring bond-holders “the rich” or some such logic.

    5. At least one state will vote to “nullify” major provisions of the Obamacare law.

    6. Someone will design an (entire) (fully) automatic rifle that you can make with an inexpensive 3D printer, and share the file online. Lots of people will download and print the rifle. (People have already made some AR-15 parts, see http://www.gizmag.com/first-3d-printed-firearm/23473/)

    7. The Israelis will re-elect Netanyahu.

    8. Israel will find itself at war with one or more of Egypt, Turkey, or Iran. The US military will not be sent to support them. A not insignificant number of American civilians will go to Israel and volunteer to fight with the IDF.

    9. Bing will start to get more search traffic than Google.

    10. Facebook will not go out of business in 2013, but it will be in serious trouble by the end of the year and at least one major publication will be predicting its imminent eclipsing by some rapidly-growing rival.

    11. New Jersey and Virginia will elect Democrat governors.

    12. Rush Limbaugh will retire. Mark Steyn will become a full-time talk radio host.

    13. There will be a terrorist incident somewhere involving a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile.

    14. There will be at least one major conservative victory in the Supreme Court, and Obama will talk about it obsessively for months.

    15. The E.U. will try to “legally” “force” Ireland to legalize abortion. Ireland will refuse. The EU will not be able to impose any consequences. Member nations will begin to act more openly as if the EU’s dictates are mere opinions without authority.

  20. I foresee the Angels making it to the World Series, and they might even win.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars bring Tim Tebow on board as a backup quarterback and have a .500 season. Coincidence?

    Economically, the natural and pent up energy of American business and Americans pursuing their self interest and happiness will drive the economy to very modest growth. The brain damaged apes we call Congress and the well meaning lackeys we call the Federal Government will prevent any real recovery. China will continue to buy our Treasury debt as they look forward to playing Germany to America’s role as Greece but that date is a decade away at least (sorry, that’s beyond the scope of 2013 predictions).

    Gasoline will cost more than $4.20 a gallon by the end of the year.

    The Islamic Brotherhood will consolidate power in Egypt, seriously threaten war will Israel or send troops into Gaza but the Egyptian Army will not quite cooperate. This will lead to a power struggle and purge of the military. Israel will not actually be attacked by soldiers.

    Assad of Syria will flee to Iran. Hamid Karzai will not be running Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

    The media (and the Taliban) will portray the US leaving Afghanistan as another Vietnam. This will embolden Al Qaeda to more attacks including one explosion in the USA which will trigger copy cat attacks.

    The artificial pancreas will be announced and diabetes will be cured.

  21. Two predictions:

    1 – In spite of Obamacare, the infant death rate will not budge much from 6 per 1000 live births.

    Don B on 31 December 2012 at 10:57 am said:

    Predictions:

    In 2013 highway accidents will kill more people than assault weapons, yet, unbelievably, automobiles will not be outlawed.

    I’ll go you one better Don, more kids die every day from crummy health care than are killed by gun wielding homicidal maniacs in an entire year. Obamacare won’t change that and neither will gun control.
    2 – My prediction that Occupy and the Tea Party would figure out that they had the same enemy was sadly optimistic. Something is happening though.

    Sick of both Democrats and Republicans? Do you see the parties’ similarities—their cowardly hawkishness and craven obeisance to deep-pocketed donors–as more significant than their differences? Looking for a fresh new approach to governance and social problem-solving? Then you might consider becoming a “peer progressive.” http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2012/10/08/comrades-join-the-peer-progressive-movement/

    I predict that in 2013, “peer progressive” will join “creative class” in the popular lexicon. (for whatever it’s worth)

  22. I predict
    1that Julia Gillard will not be Prime Minister of Australia by the end of the year

  23. What happened there – fat thumb reflex?

    Starting again

    I predict that:
    1 Julia Gillard will not be Prime Minister of Australia by years end
    2 The increasing tension in the South China Sea area will see an increase in US forces based in Australia
    3 The Australian economy will still be strong with the Aussie dollar still buying more than one US dollar
    4 I will still be in a job by the years end even though I am aged over sixty

  24. It seems my claim that pedophilia will be “normalized” will come true in 2013. I started saying this over 15 years ago and even wrote up a short piece noting the prediction. In addition, polygamy will also be considered just another sexual orientation.

    The Congressional Budget will continue to look like a crayon drawing of a 2 year old.

    The blurring of political parties will continue, with “Republicans” and “Those who vote with Democrats” being the labels used.

    Twinkies will return under another manufacturer. :)

  25. Briggs

    7 January 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Sheri,

    This and most especially this.

    All,

    I notice that critics of the scientific, biological definition of mother have not in fact offered consistent or convincing arguments to rebut. I also see that the paradoxes I posed (e.g. if “words change” means concept behind words change, then “words change” could mean, say, “mother” and not “words change”) have been left unanswered. Lastly, even as I said in the original post—using words understood by each of us—mother is often used to mean something other than mother. But this does not imply, and it is not true, that there isn’t one, unchangeable, universal meaning of mother. We’ll have to do better.

  26. Briggs

    7 January 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Sheri,

    You’re already looking solid: This and most especially this.

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