Rootclaim's Track Record

Rootclaim's Track Record

Rootclaim outperforms human reasoning by using mathematical models to correct for the biases and flaws of human intuition. The best way to trust a Rootclaim analysis is by learning the math behind it, and then verifying that the evidence was processed accurately and objectively (see “Think Rootclaim is wrong?”). Since most people don't have the time or knowledge to go through this process, this page provides an easier alternative by retrospectively looking at past analyses and how they withstood the scrutiny of time.

So far, no hypothesis in a Rootclaim analysis that received a likelihood of 50% or more was later shown to be wrong. Unlike fact checkers, Rootclaim focuses on complex, highly contentious issues that are not easily settled, and often finds fringe theories to be correct. Achieving such a track record under those conditions is outstanding, possibly unprecedented.

Interestingly, this actually indicates the model is too conservative: Since many leading hypotheses land in the 60-80% range, one should actually expect such a “failure” to have happened by now (by definition, 1 in 5 hypotheses marked 80% should be wrong, as should 1 in 3 marked 66%). This "over-performance" is a result of a conscious decision to build several safety measures into the model. As more analyses are performed and tested against evidence released after the initial calculations, these measures could be gradually phased out. This will result in more analyses reaching high-confidence results (90%+), and the actual error rate matching the prediction.

Following are all Rootclaim analyses for which significant evidence was revealed after their publication.

Syrian chemical weapon attacks (Ghouta and Khan Sheikhoun)

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at publication:

Opposition forces carried out the chemical attack in Ghouta Syria. (92% likely)

Opposition forces carried out the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun. (Preliminary analysis 52% likely, later adjusted to 96% likely and then and then 83% likely)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

Most of the Western population quickly accepted the claims that the attacks were carried out by the Syrian government. This is the position confidently claimed by virtually every Western intelligence agency, human rights organization, and research institute that has studied the issue. It is so entrenched that objections to it are widely considered to be “conspiracy theories”.

Significant developments since publication:

Nearly eight years after the attacks, and over four years after Rootclaim’s analysis, new information has surfaced that clearly implicates the opposition. This includes identification of the rocket trajectories that point to a launch location within opposition territory. Additionally, a video purporting to show the opposition carrying out the chemical attack was demonstrated to have been taken in that same launch location.
Also relevant is a leak from the OPCW exposing that information and expert opinions pointing to the staging of another chemical attack has been suppressed and hidden from the public.

Since Rootclaim’s conclusion raised objections by many Western experts, this inspired the Rootclaim $100,000 challenge, available to anyone who thinks they can win an expert debate on this subject. Since publication of the offer on April 11, 2018, no one has accepted the challenge.

Today, we consider this issue to be closed, but the offer is still available here.

Bottom line:

Rootclaim’s conclusion contradicted all Western intelligence agencies, but years later was shown to be correct. This demonstrates that superior inference methodologies are far more important than privileged access to information.

Who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014?

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at time of publication (December 2016):

The Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) shot down MH17 using a surface-to-air missile (mistaking it for a Ukrainian military plane). (95% likely)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

Most of the Western world agreed that MH17 was most likely shot down by DNR, probably with the help of the Russian military. However, Russia and its supporters were adamant that was not the case.

Significant developments since publication:

The main team investigating the crash was led by the Public Prosecution Service of the Dutch Ministry of Justice, and is the largest in Dutch history, involving dozens of prosecutors and 200 investigators. In 2019, almost five years after the incident, they submitted a report that Russian soldiers working with the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) shot down MH17 using a BUK. In April 2021 phone calls between DNR members were published further proving that the BUK was transported by DNR. Additionally, evidence presented at trial in the Hague showed that fragments found in the plane wreckage match missiles from a Russian-made BUK. This supports Rootclaim's calculated conclusion.

Disappearance of flight MH370

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at time of publication (December 2016):

MH 370 disappeared due to pilot suicide (83% likely)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

The disappearance of MH370 has perplexed people from the moment it first went missing. When MH370 first disappeared in 2014, valuable time was lost searching the South China Sea for remains. Publications listed dozens of theories without coming to a conclusion, with many blaming the crash on a shipment of batteries on board, especially after other planes caught fire due to lithium batteries in 2013-2015. Interestingly, this xkcd comic rated MH-370 as the biggest mystery known to the writer.

track record

A July 2018 report concluded that it was not a deliberate act by the crew. However, this report may have been made in the best interests of Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines, so as not to fault either the country investigating, their applicable laws and standards, or the country’s main airline.

Significant developments since publication:

Debris was found in several locations in the Indian Ocean, showing that the plane probably did not crash in the South China Sea as originally believed. Additional information has surfaced regarding Captain Zaharie’s use of his flight simulator to fly a route into the southern Indian Ocean ending with a rapid unpowered descent with no fuel reserves, similar to the final flight path of MH370, lending weight to the hypothesis that he crashed the plane deliberately. A report from 2019 suggests that the missing MH370's pilot was 'clinically depressed' and purposely killed all 239 on board.

Bottom line:

Most of the new evidence supports Rootclaim’s conclusion that Captain Zaharie deliberately crashed the plane as he committed suicide.

Barry and Honey Sherman

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at time of publication (January 2018):

Barry and Honey Sherman were both murdered. (77% Likely)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

While the police investigated the deaths as if it were a murder-suicide, the Rootclaim analysis initially concluded that a double homicide was equally likely, and after a few weeks, when additional evidence was released, the “double homicide” hypothesis increased to 77%.

Significant developments since publication:

Over a year after the murders and Rootclaim’s analysis, a neighbor revealed that she had turned over surveillance video to the police that showed a man waiting in his car and then entering the Shermans’ house the day before the bodies were found. This supports Rootclaim’s conclusion that the Shermans were murdered.

What is the source of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)?

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at time of publication (October 2020):

The virus was developed during gain-of-function research and was released by accident. (81%)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

The prevailing position in the media and by experts speaking publicly was that the virus evolved in nature and was transmitted to humans zoonotically. This position has been strongly argued by China and was promoted in the prestigious Nature magazine. Hundreds of health professionals even signed a letter, published by the Lancet, purporting a zoonotic transfer as the definitive conclusion: "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin … We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture..."
There were some who voiced accusations of bioweapons or lab leaks, but there is a large gap between flinging accusations or saying that the lab escape theory needs further investigation, and Rootclaim’s calculated conclusion that it is the most likely hypothesis.

Significant developments since publication:

There has been increased consideration and even adoption of the lab escape hypothesis by more scientists and mainstream media, including former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield (aired on CNN), Dr. Nikolai Petrovsky (a researcher of immunology who was developing a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2) and others (published in MIT Technology Review), Peter Palese (one of the signatories of the Lancet letter), and dozens of other scientists and researchers.

Coronaviruses (including at least one from a WIV project in 2017) were found in Wuhan outside of the biocontainment labs. SARS-CoV-2 showed limited genetic diversity early on, which indicates that COVID-19 was well adapted to humans from the earliest cases - something that is less likely in the case of zoonotic transmission.
On the other hand, a WHO team investigating the origins of COVID-19 concluded that zoonotic transmission was very likely while a laboratory incident was extremely unlikely. However, the reliability of this conclusion was mitigated since the team failed to find a likely source for zoonotic transmission, had to be pre-approved by China, relied only on information Chinese authorities approved, and included Peter Daszak, a scientist involved in the gain-of-function research in Wuhan. Following this publication, the WHO director clarified that “all hypotheses remain open.

Does the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine cause autism?

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at time of publication (December 2016):

The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. (99.9%)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

Much of the civilized world trusted the medical professionals and continued to follow vaccination schedules. However, a significant percentage of the population had major doubts regarding vaccines in general and MMR in particular. Some stopped giving vaccines entirely, while others opted for modified vaccine schedules.

Significant developments since publication:

The latest work opposing the connection between MMR and autism involves 6,517 cases of autism, the biggest number to date, among 650,000 children on the Danish population registry, followed over 10 years.

While this study is more robust than ever, its effect on the analysis is low, since the alternative hypothesis was a widespread conspiracy of falsified studies.

Who killed Hae Min Lee?

Rootclaim’s leading hypotheses at publication (January 2017):

Hae Min Lee was killed by someone other than Adnan Syed: 51% likely
Adnan Syed killed Hae Min Lee - 29% likely

Prevalent views at time of publication:

The general consensus was that Adnan Syed was guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, although the podcasts “Serial” and “Undisclosed” had called his guilt into question. Some accused Adnan’s friend Jay Wilds (who gave crucial testimony that Adnan admitted to the murder), while others suspected Hae’s new boyfriend Don (whose family provided his alibi for the time of the murder).

Significant developments since publication:

Two of the witnesses, Kristi and Jen, now doubt their original testimony that helped convict Adnan. Kristi had testified that Adnan was acting odd on the night of Hae’s murder, and Jenn said she heard secondhand (from Jay) that Adnan admitted to Hae’s murder.

Jay himself said that police coached him to change some details in his testimony (though he still maintains that Adnan admitted to the murder).

Additional DNA testing was conducted, and none of Adnan Syed’s DNA was found on Lee’s clothes, under her nails, at the crime scene (this is not a strong result, as there are many inconclusive elements) or in Lee’s car (where prosecutors believe she was strangled).

Bottom line:

There is no new evidence that Adnan is guilty, additional evidence that Jay was lying, and a conspicuous lack of evidence that Adnan was at the crime scene or was even in close proximity to Lee on the day she died. This all points to a greater likelihood that Adnan was not guilty, supporting Rootclaim’s original conclusion.

Did Pakistan know that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad?

Rootclaim’s leading hypothesis at time of publication (July 2017):

Pakistani intelligence (but not the government) knew that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad. (84% likely)

Prevalent views at time of publication:

Seymour Hersh claimed that Pakistani intelligence held Bin Laden prisoner for years before handing him over to the US in a staged raid, but otherwise most people believed the official US storyline: US intelligence tracked down Bin Laden, but the Pakistani government and intelligence was unaware of his presence.

Significant developments since publication:

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan's main spy agency provided the US with a lead that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, supporting Rootclaim’s original conclusion.