A testable claim by the past administration

Bush administration officials have not said definitively how many terrorist incidents have been prevented due to the tools they have availed themselves of. However, they have stated that it has been more than a handful since September 2001.

If they were telling the truth, it would seem that we should experience attacks over the next four years now that many of these tools are being dismantled by President Obama.

Of course, if there is some attack, this would cast some doubt on claims by others that the measures don't do any good.

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It might cast some doubt.

It might cast some doubt. But it might just mean the bad guys got lucky.

It might also mean that the

It might also mean that the information gathered allowed us to disrupt some terrorist networks. It would mean foiling some plants that were already on the way, AND limiting their ability to attack for some time in the future. As in our current financial crisis, dismembering key networks would set back their plans for several years.

Test but not proof or refutation

I agree that this would test the claim, but it would neither prove nor refute the claim. Just keep in mind that a test can give you false positives and false negatives, so what a test actually does is give a rational observer reason to alter the probabilities that they assign things. In this case, I don't think the alteration would be very great in either direction.

Yeah, yeah,

I agree with each of you.

Keep in mind, however, that if you only accept rigorous tests in the realm of politics, you will succeed in never finding any tests.

It would be nice if we had a sample of identical worlds on which we could perform controlled experiments, but as long as we don't we should look at what evidence we can get. I put this post out there prior to an attack (or a non-attack) to identify it as an a-priori hypothesis.

If there are multiple attacks over the next four years, I can point to this post and show that I'm not part of a vast right-wing conspiracy of Obama Haters. Likewise, I could point to this post after 4 uneventful years and show that I am not the reverse.

IMHO, I think the blogging world should use this approach more often. We all too often find evidence after the fact to support our points rather than identifying evidence *before* it happens and truly testing our beliefs by revisiting our predictions.