Outside of economics, let me present the following:
Exhibit A. Climate forecasting
The prediction of global warming could only come from simulations of computer models of the climate. Virtually a scientific consensus on the future trends of global tempertures has been reached, on the strength of computer models. How so given model uncertainty? A simple explanation is given by an economist article on climate change:
Individual models have their individual faults, of course. But unless all contain some huge, false underlying assumption that is invisible to the world's climatologists, the fact that all of them trend in the same direction reinforces the idea that it is the data which are spurious rather than the models' predictions.
Exhibit B. War forecasting
The techniques used in model-building cannot differ across disciplines. In the technique of "backcasting" we use the following: Hypothesize a theoretical relationship between variables; build a database; identify the numerical relationships using data; check if the data is replicated by the model; apply the model to forecast future trends. That is precisely what the state-of-the art commercial war forecasting software does - though with the advantage of an enormous database.
Some anecdotal evidence:
IN DECEMBER 1990, 35 days before the outbreak of the Gulf war, an unassuming retired colonel appeared before the Armed Services Committee of America's House of Representatives and made a startling prediction. The Pentagon's casualty projections—that 20,000 to 30,000 coalition soldiers would be killed in the first two weeks of combat against the Iraqi army—were, he declared, completely wrong. Casualties would, he said, still be less than 6,000 after a month of hostilities. Military officials had also projected that the war would take at least six months, including several months of fighting on the ground. That estimate was also wide of the mark, said the former colonel. The conflict would last less than two months, with the ground war taking just 10 to 14 days.
Operation Desert Storm began on January 17th with an aerial bombardment. President George Bush senior declared victory 43 days later. Fewer than 1,400 coalition troops had been killed or wounded, and the ground-war phase had lasted five days. The forecaster, a military historian called Trevor Dupuy, had been strikingly accurate.
Would that economists had such a killer app.