September 18th, 2020


I'm a seer, sort of. My 2015 predictions

 Stephen Carter

By Stephen Carter Bloomberg View

Published Dec. 30, 2015

In preparation for my predictions for 2016, I thought I should honor my loyal readers by going back and doing what critics say pundits never do: seeing how well I did on my predictions for 2015, published in this space on Dec. 31 of last year. To my surprise, some of them came true. Alas, not necessarily the happy ones.

Here are those predictions from a year ago and my evaluations of them a year later.

1. I predicted that Bashar Assad would still be in power, and that the Iraqi regime would not be able to do very much to reduce its territorial losses. True.

2. I predicted that the price of Bitcoins would not rise significantly against the dollar. This is sort of true: The price fluctuated quite a bit in 2015, but wound up about where it started.

3. I predicted that Magnus Carlsen would lose the chess championship to Fabiano Caruana. False. I had my dates crossed. I will stick with the prediction, but push it into 2016.

4. I predicted that "The Force Awakens" would have a "Star Trek" Easter egg and an extra in some scene with Vulcan ears. I've now seen the film twice, and I will confess that this one didn't come true.

5. I predicted that high-tech valuations would turn out to be a bubble, because startups, even those with great products, would have a harder and harder time gaining the attention of busy consumers. This one only partly came true in 2015, but it still seems likely down the road.

6. I predicted that my beloved Washington R-word football team would endure another losing season and finally change its name. I was flat wrong. To the surprise of pretty much everyone, the team is in the playoffs, and winning seems through some media magic to have reduced the pressure on the league to persuade the franchise to become the Bravehearts.

7. I predicted that overreach by both political parties in 2015 would lead to lower voter turnout in 2016, and that commentators will blame not the parties but the voters. I was right about the overreach, so I'm sticking with this one.

8. I predicted that "The Walking Dead" would continue its remarkable ratings dominance and that the ratings for "Mad Men," in the show's final season, would continue to fall. True.

9. I predicted that colleges and universities would find new ways to stifle dissent, even as they denied doing any such thing. True.

10. I predicted that the globe would not grow measurably warmer in 2015, and that those of us who consider climate change an urgent issue would be thrown on the defensive. Whether the first part was accurate depends on your definition of measurably. As to the second, the U.S. remains as divided as ever.

11. In sports, I predicted that the San Francisco Giants would not make it back to the World Series; that no team from the Eastern Conference would win the championship of the National Basketball Association; and that colleges and universities would continue to profit handsomely from the uncompensated services of student athletes. All easy predictions - and all true.

12. I predicted that the news media would continue to misreport statements by Pope Francis as great departures from Catholic doctrine when they're not. True.

13. I predicted that "Bridge of Spies" would be the sleeper hit of the year. A great film, but its domestic box office gross didn't even reach the top 30.

14. I predicted that Amazon would fix the security hole for playing video that requires the entry of the PIN on the television screen, rather than on the keypad. False. No fix. (Come on, Amazon.) 15. I predicted that ESPN would not fix the glitch making it impossible, when following a professional football game online, to see the plays from the current drive. Clicking the "drive" button displays only the last play, not the entire drive. True. No fix. (Come on, ESPN.)

16. I predicted that the deep divisions in New York City following the murder of two police officers late last year would begin to heal. I'd have to evaluate this one as jury-still-out.

Just in case you haven't been keeping score, the totals come to eight true, five false, and three impossible-to- evaluate. How did you do with yours?

Coming on New Year's Eve: my predictions for 2016.

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Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught since 1982. Among his courses are law and religion, the ethics of war, contracts, evidence, and professional responsibility. His most recent book is The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama (2011). He is an author and Bloomberg View columnist.