Beyond Labels

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Betting on politics

PredictIt Politics

Prediction markets are places where you can place a bet–for money, or reputation, or just for fun–on what you know and what you can predict based on what you know. Gwern Branwen, a brilliant guy whose writing I follow on the Internet, has written a long essay on prediction markets. He says he likes betting because, “A bet is a tax on bullshit; and it is a just tax, tribute paid by the bullshitters to those with genuine knowledge.”

If you think you understand both legal issues and the thought processes of Supreme Court justices you can go to the “Fantasy SCOTUS predictions” market where you can put your money where your legal knowledge lies.


Or you can go to the site PredictIt (the image of parts of their US Presidential market is the lead for this article).

Gwern’s article, the one that includes the “betting as a tax on bullshit,” quote that I used in the lead. Is worth reading. Gwern cites his sources diligently and defines his terms carefully. In this case, he’s got a link to a part of the Wikipedia article on bullshit (Did you know there was such an article?) that describes the work of philosopher Harry Frankfurt of Princeton University, who wrote an essay called “On Bullshit(which also has its own Wikipedia article) and which clarifies which of the many meanings of the term he might using.

The full quote is below, and heads this section of Gwern’s very long essay, research paper, or call-it-what-you will.

Overall, I am for betting because I am against bullshit. Bullshit is polluting our discourse and drowning the facts. A bet costs the bullshitter more than the non-bullshitter so the willingness to bet signals honest belief. A bet is a tax on bullshit; and it is a just tax, tribute paid by the bullshitters to those with genuine knowledge.


By the way, anyone concerned about the quality of thought on the Internet has only to read people like Gwern, and Scott Alexander to see that reasoned discourse is alive and well, at least in some of the corners and back alleys of the Internet. The New York Time, and Wall Street Journal are OK, but these guys and their confreres write things of greater value.


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