Blogging Against The Hype

No Gravatar


I have been blogging a lot about the damage done by some Ivory Tower economic professors and some commercial practitioners who exaggerate the benefits of the prediction markets. (Some people are not very happy with what I said. :-D ) The Gartner consultants have a word for that &#8212-&#8221-hype&#8221-. Hyping is defined as the act of publicizing in an exaggerated and often misleading manner. The way Internet citizens can guard against hype is to read bloggers and journalists (whatever you call them) who publish high-quality reports and opinions about the brand-new products and the fresh startups. It is a difficult task. It requires a solid expertise and a way to deflect away commercial influence and pressure (e.g., from some professionals who think that bloggers shouldn&#8217-t publish anything without their prior &#8220-consent&#8221-). If you want a role model for such an impartial journalist, I recommend to look at search engine expert Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. If you have 2 minutes, you could go there and scan his hype-bursting talking points.



Charles Plott (a big-shot economist) condemns all the hype surrounding the prediction markets and the wisdom of crowds.

No Gravatar

California Institute of Technology economist Charles Plott:

What you&#8217-re doing is collecting bits and pieces of information and aggregating it so we can watch it and understand what people know. People picked this up and called it the &#8216-wisdom of crowds&#8217- and other things, but a lot of that is just hype.

Collecting bits and pieces of information, and aggregating it, so we can understand what people know.

No Gravatar

Charles Plott has nailed it.

I would lay out this dichotomy:

  • Some of our academics, consultants, and exchange executives have sold the prediction markets as the ultimate forecasting tool &#8212-which is true, but people translated that as &#8220-this is an omniscient tool for forecasting&#8221-
  • The best usage of the prediction markets is that they do average what the experts think (see Justin Wolfers&#8217- mention of a &#8220-useful counterweight&#8221-) &#8212-but that&#8217-s a far cry from being an omniscient oracle (which is what people are expecting).

Some people would enjoy the usage of a &#8220-useful counterweight&#8221- &#8212-but not that many.

The &#8220-useful counterweight&#8221- thing is not a hot-selling proposition.

You don&#8217-t draw crowds with that.

You draw crowds with an over-selling proposition.

You draw crowds by manufacturing hype.

As a result of the collective intelligence of more than 77,000 bettors on Intrade, the prices on the site may be a good way to predict the outcome of current events &#8212- more accurate than some polls and pundits. In 2004, the market odds on Intrade predicted the presidential vote of every state but Alaska. In 2006, the odds correctly indicated the outcome of every Senate race.

Our Explainer On Prediction Markets

Prediction markets produce dynamic, objective probabilistic predictions on the outcomes of future events by aggregating disparate pieces of information that traders bring when they agree on prices. Prediction markets are meta forecasting tools that feed on the advanced indicators (i.e., the primary sources of information). Garbage in, garbage out&#8230- Intelligence in, intelligence out&#8230-

A prediction market is a market for a contract that yields payments based on the outcome of a partially uncertain future event, such as an election. A contract pays $100 only if candidate X wins the election, and $0 otherwise. When the market price of an X contract is $60, the prediction market believes that candidate X has a 60% chance of winning the election. The price of this event derivative can be interpreted as the objective probability of the future outcome (i.e., its most statistically accurate forecast). A 60% probability means that, in a series of events each with a 60% probability, then 6 times out of 10, the favored outcome will occur- and 4 times out of 10, the unfavored outcome will occur.

Each prediction exchange organizes its own set of real-money and/or play-money markets, using either a CDA or a MSR mechanism.

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • Become “friend” with me on Google E-Mail so as to share feed items with me within Google Reader.
  • Nigel Eccles’ flawed “vision” about HubDub shows that he hasn’t any.
  • How does InTrade deal with insider trading?
  • Modern Life
  • “The Beacon” is an excellent blog published by The Independent Institute.
  • The John Edwards Non-Affair… is making Memeorandum (twice), again.
  • Prediction Markets = marketplaces for information trading… and for separating the wheat from the chaff.