Week 1: Thinking in Buckets

Part of:
Practical Decision-Making
Matt Freeman

Before our class session, please watch the video below for an overview of the subject matter we will be discussing, and familiarize yourself with the background materials linked below.

This week our goal is to learn the tools and methods for improving our individual prediction accuracy, and to practice those skills. We cannot hope to navigate complex decisions unless we first understand how to correctly analyze an event, and to have reasonably well-calibrated expectations about the future.

Reading Material

No reading is required, but transcripts of the main YouTube videos are available under the Supplemental materials.



  • Download and play the Credence Game (or the Metaculus Calibration Game if you are having trouble installing the Credence Game) for at least ten minutes. Bring your score to the course session.
  • Make an account on Metaculus and make one prediction every day. You will continue this practice for the remainder of the course, incorporating new tools as you learn them. You are encouraged to collaborate with your cohort on these predictions; at the end of this course, the cohort with the best calibration will be victorious.
  • This course will focus on the practicalities of decision-making, so it will help you learn most effectively if you bring a real problem to the table during discussion sessions. Think of a decision that you’re facing which is not straightforward, and which you wouldn’t mind sharing and discussing with your cohort. For this exercise, simply break the space of possible outcomes of the decision down into a small number of bins that make sense. If appropriate, create a probability tree based on these distinctions. Be prepared to share and discuss with your cohort.



  • Try to keep discussions on topic.
  • If students have questions for the instructor, directly contact the instructor with the question. The instructor may not be able to reply immediately, so try not to let the question hold up further discussion.
  • When leading a discussion, tap individuals to speak rather than waiting for someone to jump in first. Over the course of the session, try to vary who speaks first.

This week

  • (20 minutes) Collect all the individual Credence Game scores from your cohort. Report these scores to the Instructor at the end of the course -- the cohort with the highest average score wins! Lead a discussion on the Credence Game, i.e. ask the students if they were surprised at their performance and what they learned from the experience.
  • (20 minutes) Lead a discussion on Metaculus. Ask the students which questions they made predictions on, and how they approached the process. Pass along any difficulties or confusions to the instructor.
  • (20 minutes) Invite the students to share their real-world problem and how they chose to break the outcome space down into discrete possibilities.


  • At least once this week, try to resolve or clarify an argument by using a prediction or bet.
  • This week, get into the habit of making friendly bets with other Guild members.


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