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Wisdom of the Crowd Accurately Predicts Supreme Court Decisions


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The U.S. Supreme Court.

Chicago Kent School of Law researchers have analyzed how well crowdsourcing can predict decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Researchers at the Chicago Kent College of Law say they have analyzed how well crowdsourcing can predict decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court by crunching data from the online FantasySCOTUS league.

Using a hypothetical contest to predict high court decisions from 2011 through 2017 using crowdsourcing data as a rationale, the researchers generated about 250,000 models to test on data produced by FantasySCOTUS.

The team notes it first analyzed the models' aggregated performance and then compared it to a "null model," or a rule of thumb attorneys use to guess the outcome of Supreme Court decisions, which was found to be 60% accurate.

The researchers say many crowdsourced models consistently outperformed the null model, with the best models predicting decisions with 80% accuracy. They now are planning to apply this same technique to predict the outcome of other legislative processes, as well as elections.

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