It’s 10 Minutes to Midnight: Political Scientist Dominic Tierney Creates Iran War Clock

Originally posted: March 18, 2012

Iran clock

TheAtlantic.com recently launched The Iran War Clock  created and directed by Dominic Tierney, associate professor of political science.

Drawing together a panel of 22 high-profile experts from the worlds of policy, academia, and journalism, The Iran War Clock reflects the average of each contributor’s estimate that war will break out in Iran in the next year.  Based on this number, the Clock is adjusted so that the hand moves closer to, or further away from, midnight.

The aim of the project is to estimate the chances of war while producing a more informed debate on this highly-charged subject.

“Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the Iran War Clock is correct in March 2012 and there’s roughly a 50/50 chance of war,” Tierney explains. “Americans need to have an accurate view of this reality. If they wrongly thought there was just a 1 percent chance of conflict it could be dangerous. And if Americans misperceived and felt there was a 99 percent chance of war, this could also be hazardous.

“When you approach the cliff edge,” he says, “you need to know how far away the precipice is.”

In a Sunday interview with MSNBC’S Alex Witt, Tierney discussed what he called the “dream team” of panelists working on The Iran War Clock and explained the methodology behind it.

Three students provided research assistance: Jonathan Emont ’12, an Honors history major and political science minor from Ridgewood, N.J.; Lorand Laskai ’13, an Honors political science major and a course history major from Berkely Heights, N.J.; and James Mao ’12, an Honors political science major and economics minor with a course major in economics, from Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

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