On Bets and Bullshit

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:

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.

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Adam Gurri

Adam Gurri works in digital advertising and writes for pleasure on his spare time. His present research focuses on the ethics of business and work, from the perspective of virtue and human flourishing.

9 thoughts on “On Bets and Bullshit”

  1. Maybe both sides in this fight are right, depending on whether we look at bets at a “micro” or “macro” level. For example, if we take a large number of bets on a given topic or question at a macro level, then Robin is right: all these bets in the aggregate tell us something, and this is why prediction markets are so awesome … but at the same time, each individual bet on a micro scale may not necessarily reveal all that much information, for the reasons Noah and others have given (and, I would add, because individuals might make inconsistent bets over time) … so Tyler is right when we look at bets on a micro or individual scale …

    1. Could be. I have some thoughts on this as well, but I’m saving them for this Monday’s piece at the Umlaut 🙂 (which is actually what motivated me to collect all the links here and storify that conversation).

  2. Thanks much for aggregating. I’d been clipping them all as they came up, and I’ve obviously missed a few.

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