A Biased Explanation of Foxes and Hedgehogs

How Foxes Think

Multidisciplinary: Incorporate ideas from different disciplines and regardless of their origin on the political spectrum.

Adaptable: Find a new approach—or pursue multiple approaches at the same time—if they aren’t sure the original one is working.

Self-critical: Sometimes willing (if rarely happy) to acknowledge mistakes in their predictions and accept the blame for them.

Tolerant of complexity: See the universe as complicated, perhaps to the point of many fundamental problems being irresolvable or inherently unpredictable.

Cautious: Express their predictions in probabilistic terms and qualify their opinions.

Empirical: Rely more on observation than theory.

Foxes are better forecasters.

How Hedgehogs Think

Specialized: Often have spent the bulk of their careers on one or two great problems. May view the opinions of “outsiders” skeptically.

Stalwart: Stick to the same “all-in” approach—new data is used to refine the original model.

Stubborn: Mistakes are blamed on bad luck or on idiosyncratic circumstances—a good model had a bad day.

Order-seeking: Expect that the world will be found to abide by relatively simple governing relationships once the signal is identified through the noise.

Confident: Rarely hedge their predictions and are reluctant to change them.

Ideological: Expect that solutions to many day-to-day problems are manifestations of some grander theory or struggle.

Hedgehogs are weaker forecasters.


Nate Silver provides a very negative portrayal of those who think like hedgehogs, settling down in one field of expertise, compared to those who think like foxes, darting from field to field.

Folksonomies: metaphors cognition

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Nate Silver:Person (0.895116 (negative:-0.502219)), Stick:Person (0.674838 (neutral:0.000000))

Scientific method (0.947609): dbpedia | freebase
Universe (0.527825): dbpedia | freebase
Critical thinking (0.471209): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Hypothesis (0.453827): dbpedia | freebase
Luck (0.428595): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Blame (0.428024): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
The Signal (0.426753): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Original sin (0.415345): dbpedia | freebase

 The Signal and the Noise
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Silver , Nate (2012-09-27), The Signal and the Noise, Penguin Press, Retrieved on 2013-04-09
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: