Google vs. Prediction Markets – Which of the 2 will detect the flu, first?

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An Irish research team hopes to make accurate forecasts of key public health indicators.

University College Cork (UCC) School of Medicine + Intrade

Dr Dylan Evans:

Prediction markets are [specialized], small-scale financial markets operated to predict future events. The idea is that the collected knowledge of many people, each with a different perspective, will be more accurate than an individual or small group or even experts.

When they have been used to predict the outcomes of political elections, prediction markets have been found to be more accurate than alternative methods of forecasting.

The obvious area to look at in the first instance is infectious disease, but we plan to extend our research into many other areas of public health. At the moment, people do not get data on infectious disease until it&#8217-s a couple of weeks out of date and we need to get it quicker.

Dylan Evans&#8217- website

My opinion:

  • To assess the benefits (if any) of the prediction markets used as forecasting tools for public health, researchers will have to compare them with the experts&#8230- and with the &#8220-Google Flu Trends&#8221- web service, which is entirely free of charge and free of advertising (being sponsored by the Google Foundation). Does not sound good for the prediction markets.
  • The irony is that it&#8217-s our prediction market researchers (David Pennock and his accomplices) who gave weight to this non-market tool. &#8212- Pennock = Treator &#8230-!!&#8230- [ :-D – Joke. ]


Iowa Health Prediction Market

Google Flu Trends

– See also: Google Foundation on &#8220-Predict and Prevent&#8221-.

– Google Trends

– David Pennock on the fact that flu-related searches on the Web are precise predictors of the upcoming influenza outbreaks.


– New York Times

– WSJ Health blog

3 thoughts on “Google vs. Prediction Markets – Which of the 2 will detect the flu, first?

  1. Chris F. Masse said:

    Flu predictions based on querying behavior (on Google and Yahoo!) are somewhat less impressive than simply looking to the recent past of flu levels.…

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