Nate Silver rates New York Citys neighborhoods… and Jason Ruspini objects.

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Nate Silver rates New York City&#8217-s neighborhoods.

Jason Ruspini:

The piece is problematic insofar as it underweights proximity to areas where people work, which results in high ratings for distant neighborhoods and low ratings for central ones, on top of the effect of higher rents in central neighborhoods. True, if you work from home, it might make more sense to live in the outer boroughs. But if you have a one hour + commute every day, it doesn&#8217-t really help that you happen to live near a subway stop and thus have a relatively high &#8220-transit&#8221- rating.

For the restaurant category, he seems to be considering quantity but not quality. How else does Long Island City have a higher rating than Gramercy/Flatiron, where 9 of the top 50 Zagats restaurants are located? I don&#8217-t even think that Long Island City beats Gramercy/Flatiron in terms of quantity either.

Ultimately, of course, preferences are too subjective to give one ordinal ranking, but the distance-to-average-work-location issue seems glaring, and increases the outer borough bias.

Boom and Bust of Prediction Markets

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The boom of public and private prediction markets started after the 2004 US elections. InTrade claimed to have nailed &#8220-all 50 states&#8221-. InTrade&#8217-s performance in the 2008 US elections was less stellar, and in line with polls. Hence, the bust we are in.

If true, the good performance of HubDub in the Oscars 2009 forecasting race could lead to a small boom. We will see. We should first analyze the HubDub data. Nigel, care to share?

Are prediction markets on deaths and assassinations SOMETIMES acceptable?

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Will Patrick Swayze die before April 15, 2008?

It was settled on &#8220-no&#8221-.

HubDub CEO Nigel Eccles thinks that his traders &#8220-quickly came to the conclusion that the [early 2008] story [giving him 5 weeks to live] was bogus.&#8221- And Nigel Eccles asks, &#8220-Is this an example where a death pool prediction market is actually socially valuable?&#8221-

In my view:

  1. It&#8217-s the opinion makers external to HubDub who should decide this. If most people and/or lawmakers decide that prediction markets on deaths and assassinations are disgusting and unacceptable, then they should be pruned. We need goodwill towards the prediction markets if we want the real-money prediction markets to be legalized everywhere.
  2. Would Nigel Eccles accept a prediction market about when his wife (or kid) is going to die?
  3. Is there a social utility in knowing when exactly a celebrity is going to die (supposing that such a prediction market could be accurate)? For a head of state, a running politician, or a Justice, that information might have a value. However, in the case of a Hollywood celebrity, I don&#8217-t see where the value lays. A prediction market on the upcoming death of a celebrity would participate in that big, stupid circus that occurs today, with paparazzi and tabloids taking an importance that they shouldn&#8217-t have in the first place. Our youth would be better off browsing and betting on prediction markets about science and technology. We should elevate our global civilization. I don&#8217-t see any (social or individual) benefit about knowing in advance when exactly Patrick Swayze is going to die. I am scratching my head right now &#8212-and I still don&#8217-t see any reason why we should spend our precious time blogging on this issue, betting on that, or collecting probabilistic predictions on that. I just don&#8217-t. (If you have a counter argument, do publish a comment below.)
  4. The very best wishes to Patrick Swayze, by the way.

Would InTrade or BetFair have done a better job predicting how many people would see the Barack Obama infomercial?

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As I disclose on the other blog (Midas Oracle .COM), the HubDub traders wrongly thought that the (Socialist) Barack Obama informercial would have be seen by &#8220-more than 50 million&#8221-. No, no, no, no. It was 33.5 million, according to Nielsen. The HubDub traders were too optimistic.

Would the InTrade or BetFair traders have done a better job? Jesus, that&#8217-s a difficult question. Which boils down (mainly, but not uniquely) to whether some experts on TV business were quoted in the media with some predictions. To investigate that, I have run a Google News search for news articles published before October 30. I haven&#8217-t seen any expert predicting how many viewers would get that infomercial. However, here&#8217-s what I spotted in the New York Times article published in the morning preceding the airing of that infomercial:

Ross Perot, the last presidential candidate to run similar programming, broadcast eight long infomercials to an average of 13 million viewers, with one of them getting 16.5 million viewers.

Hummm&#8230- Obviously, the HubDub traders were too cocky with their &#8220-50 million&#8221- figure&#8230- but should we blame them when, obviously (too), the Barack Obama situation circa 2008 is very different than the Ross Perot situation circa 1992?

The HubDub traders were not informed by the Ross Perot history. They simply made the bet that the Barack Obama infomercial would get as many TV viewers as the Third Presidential debate got (56.5 million). They predicted in a gregarious fashion. They lost.

I don&#8217-t think that the BetFair or InTrade traders would have done better. Do you?

How many people will watch Barack Obama&#8217-s primetime address on 10/29?