Sean Park (after a long, boring introduction to the subject):
[…] The ‘failure’ of New Hampshire was the result of primarily two factors:
- It wasn’t a failure. No market is always right. More importantly markets reflect the information available to and the interests of their participants. Basically markets are very efficient mechanisms (I would claim the most efficient) for processing information. No more, no less.
- In this particular instance, the probability of the market producing an erroneous forecast was high due to the lack of liquidity. This is a problem of all political markets in the US. Show me a market on the New Hampshire primaries with tens of thousands of participants and millions of dollars traded and I will show you a market that creates more valuable information. BUT it would still on occasion be ’surprised.’
Basically I guess what I’m trying to say is the expectations seem to be set all wrong by many inside the community. I think “prediction markets” – creating markets in information and outcomes is a wonderfully important and valuable thing to do. Equally however I think that anyone that represents such markets as being able to predict the future is a charlatan. What they can do is collect and synthesize powerfully and efficiently all the dispersed available information – using money as the relevance filter. This is very valuable in its own right and is defensible. Promoting prediction markets to true sceptics (ie mainstream American politicians) on the basis that they are a Delphic Oracle is surely a path to certain tears and ultimately is almost guaranteed to fail. [*]
Markets don’t compute unknown unknowns. That doesn’t mean they are useless, just that they have to be understood in context.
[*] How to promote the prediction markets, then? As information collecting tools? Who should use these tools, then? Experts or ignorants? Sean Park does not elaborate further. None of the questions I have asked are answered.