Speaking of conversations, the economics blogosphere has recently erupted with a discussion that has been ongoing, at a much slower pace, for years. The subject is the effect of making a bet upon the kinds of claims one is likely to make. One side finds it inherently desirable to wager on your beliefs because it makes you put your money where your mouth is, discourages vagueness, and so on. The other side thinks the impact of this bet is overstated and perhaps even negative.
For my own purposes I’d like to collect the pieces of the conversation that I have managed to witness in one place.
Here we go:
- Must you bet your views? by Tyler Cowen, March 2009
- Yes, Tax Lax Ideas by Robin Hanson, March 2009
- What Does the Betting Norm Tax? by Bryan Caplan, March 2009
- A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit, by Alex Tabarrok, November 2012. This became the main focus of the conversation that followed.
- Bets do not (necessarily) reveal beliefs, by Noah Smith, May 2013. This reframed the question from whether bets imposed a specific tax to whether bets revealed what people really believed.
- The Value of Bets, by Adam Ozimek, June 2013.
- Bets, Portfolios, and Belief Revelation, by Bryan Caplan, July 2013.
- Bets, beliefs, and portfolios: some further observations on the theses of Bryan Caplan, by Tyler Cowen, July 2013.
- Bets and Beliefs, by Alex Tabarrok, July 2013.
- A Twitter discussion between many of the members of this discussion on the day of the last two posts.
- Bets Argue, by Robin Hanson, July 2013.
- Some Points on Betting, by Eli Dourado, July 2013
- Assorted links, by Tyler Cowen, July 2013. Includes an argument for what empirical phenomena support his position.
- Do beliefs contain useful information? by Noah Smith, July 2013.
- Wanna Bet? by Samuel Wilson, July 2013.
- The Silence of the Bets, by Bryan Caplan, July 2013.
- How Betting Can Improve the Social Sciences, by Adam Gurri, July 2013.
- Why Do Bets Look Bad? by Robin Hanson, July 2013
What I love about this is how wonderful an illustration it is of the nature of conversations like these, which have existed long before blogs and the Internet and computers. None of the participants treat the subject as though it is occurring in a vacuum; all make reference to the larger conversation, making it easier for new spectators and participants to join in when encountering just one piece of it.