Wisdom of crowds in popular culture, again

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&#8220-The wisdom of crowds&#8221- has apparently seeped a bit into popular culture, or at least the geekier end of it.

On the heels of British illusionist Derren Brown&#8217-s invoking of &#8220-the wisdom of crowds&#8221- as a (false) part of his explanation of how he appeared to predict winning lottery numbers, last night a character in the American TV show House invoked the wisdom of crowds as part of an explanation for how he obtained a diagnosis of his medical condition.

(The character &#8211- a highly intelligent, geeky, successful video game designer &#8211- posted his medical symptoms on the internet and offered $25,000 for a successful diagnosis. Then, mentioning &#8220-wisdom of crowd&#8221- based reasoning, concluded that the most frequent diagnosis appearing in emailed responses was likely correct. As the story turned out, the crowd-sourced diagnosis was incorrect. Instead, the correct diagnosis was submitted by series main character Greg House, working from home after quitting his job at the hospital.  The &#8220-wisdom of crowds&#8221- element doesn&#8217-t make it into the official episode summary.)

Although the crowd was wrong (the better to highlight how clever our main character is when, later, he provides the correct diagnosis), at least the basic &#8220-wisdom of crowds&#8221- logic illustrated in the episode was correct. As a fan of the show, I appreciate that it doesn&#8217-t insult my intelligence by dressing up clever cons with misleading science-based patter.

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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?

Max Keiser is going to practice (an entertaining form of) prediction market analysis for BBC World News.

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Max Keiser:


Max Keiser looks into the future every Friday on BBC World . . . coming soon

BBC World News is working with Max Keiser, the creator of the Hollywood Stock Exchange, to produce &#8220-The Oracle,&#8221- a weekly entertaining look into the future with the help of today&#8217-s headlines and prediction market charts.

The Oracle&#8217-s partners include Eldorado Pictures, the production company of Emmy award winning star, Alec Baldwin.

BBC World News Head of Programmes, Paul Gibbs, says: &#8216-If Max had been on our screens a year ago the current global financial crisis would not have been a surprise. It might not even have happened.&#8217-

Alec Baldwin, who has enjoyed a relationship, both personal and professional, with Keiser for nearly 30 years says, &#8220-I&#8217-m excited to be working with Max on The Oracle. Keiser combines blazing intellect, total irreverence and searing honesty to put forth news and commentary like no one else can.&#8221-

The Oracle is planned to air every weekend from early 2009 on BBC World News. Celebrity and expert guests join Max to pore over the prediction market charts to see where people are predicting today&#8217-s news might lead.

Max Keiser, has a long and amazingly accurate history of looking at market prices in order to predict the future.

As the creator of the world&#8217-s first prediction market, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, Max presented &#8220-Rumble at the Box Office&#8221- for NBC&#8217-s Access Hollywood accurately predicting box office.

Max went on to predict the present economic turmoil in a series of ten films for the Aljazeera English magazine series, People and Power.

As early as 2006, Max predicted in these films –

* the crisis in the global banking system to be triggered by subprime debts,
* the rescue of the financial system by wholesale government intervention,
* the rise in the price of gold,
* the Russian invasion of Georgia,
* economic meltdown in Iceland,

* and more.

Max continues to stay one step ahead of the game with his weekly radio show in London on Resonance 104.4 FM and in his writing for the Huffington Post and Intrade, the prediction market site.

The producers of the program will be in Mipcom and available for meetings.

VIDEO: Max Keisers attempt at predicting the future -subjectively

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Overall, the TV show is based on a good concept (trying to predict future headlines), and I&#8217-m sure it will be a success in the end.

However, one big mistake Max is doing is to have female journalists. Sorry to say that, but if you are in the business of selling subjective predictions, you need to have credible predictors, with loud voice, charisma, and definitive attitude. Most women in journalism don&#8217-t display those qualities.

Max, fire the journalists and put real pundits on your TV show.


Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • The letter David Pennock will never send out —well, we hope.
  • Monitor the web traffic of TradeSports.com, InTrade.com, BetFair.com, Betdaq.com, NewsFutures.com, HubDub.com, etc. —thanks to Google Trends.
  • Here’s the way to promote innovation for entry-order and analysis software packages —separate the 2 functions.
  • Ugly things happened before BetFair was invented
  • Tiny API delay for non-UK customers of BetFair —since all international BetFair bettors, traders and gamblers are now served from Malta, not from London.
  • CLOCK IS RUNNING FAST: 17 days to go, if we want to counter AEI’s push for not-for-profit prediction exchanges.
  • In the for-profit vs not-for-profit debate, our prediction market luminaries, doctored by Bob, are on the wrong side of the issue.

TV News Shows = Entertainment

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The awful French TV program on sports betting (where BetFair&#8217-s Mark Davies croaked in French) reminded me of what Robert Scoble said about TV news shows.

They do not intend to educate you..

Robert Scoble:

Last week I was on CNBC twice. Once on “Fast Money” and once on Donny Deutsch’s “The Big Idea.”

The Fast Money segment has been torn apart on the Internet but Roger Ehrenberg of the Information Arbitrage blog had the most intelligent analysis of it.

Here’s the key piece of the Donny Deutsch show, where we had a bunch of bloggers on the Microsoft Blogger Bus asking questions of Bug Labs’ CEO Peter Semmelhack. Bug Labs went onto win CNET’s “Best of CES” award for the emerging tech category.

Some things that are worth underlying about the difference between my video show and CNBC.

1. Expense. CNBC had dozens of people involved in the show, a huge booth, really expensive cameras, satellite time, etc. My show? Get a Nokia phone and go for it.
2. Makeup. Yeah, I wore it. There’s a video out there on the Internet somewhere. I’m not sure why Valleywag hasn’t found it yet.
3. You don’t get to say whatever you want. Donny’s show was tape delayed. If you try doing something wacky, they’ll just cut you out. But even if they keep you on, they have a director who is telling you what they want. She preps you for each segment, giving you “talking points.” If you don’t agree with those talking points you have to negotiate to have them changed. But if they don’t like your talking points they just won’t go with you. Second, she has a big sign and if she thinks you should make a point she makes it clear.
4. These shows are NOT about getting deep, or really getting a good understanding of CES. They were ALL about being entertaining! Hey, who knew? (I tried to pull a bunch of gadgets out and they said “we don’t care about the gadgets.”)
5. They filmed Bug Labs’ CEO for 10 hours for a two-minute segment. Now do you understand why so many CEOs let me come over and film them? I never take more than an hour with an executive, so it’s always easy to get onto someone’s schedule.
6. My show has very little editing, so it’s pretty rare that the context gets lost on an answer. On TV, though, things get cut up, sliced and diced, all for entertainment effect, not necessarily to tell the best story.

VIDEO – BetFairs Mark Davies croaks like a frog.

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To watch Mark Davies speaking French:

  1. Internet Explorer &#8212-no FireFox.
  2. Latest Flash.
  3. Go to M6 Replay.
  4. Select &#8220-magazines&#8221-.
  5. Scroll on the right to go to &#8220-Enquete Exclusive&#8221-.
  6. Select Sunday, May 1, 2008 &#8212- Paris sportifs: Quand la Mafia s&#8217-en mele&#8230-
  7. Windows Media.
  8. 9:00 into, they talk about Davydenko.
  9. 11:00 into, they show the BetFair HQ.
  10. Mark Davies is introduced as &#8220-the #2&#8243-. And, later on, they mis-translate &#8220-Managing Director&#8221- into &#8220-Directeur General&#8221-, which means &#8220-CEO&#8221- in French. Let&#8217-s hope David Yu won&#8217-t watch that tape. :-D
  11. His French is not superb&#8230- but quite close to. :-D
  12. Explains that, in the Davydenko match, it was the bets that lead the game &#8212-not the other way around. So, BetFair voided all bets.
  13. I am realizing that the phrase &#8220-the prices of the bets&#8221- (&#8221-les prix des paris&#8220-) is not usable. Better to talk about probabilities to the public.
  14. The rest of that news report is devoted to demonstrating, thru innuendos, rumors, unfounded pseudo facts, and mis-reported true facts, that the Mafia is in control of all world sports &#8212-thru world-wide betting.
  15. At the very end, though, one official (from the tennis federation, the ATP, if my memory is correct) says that they cooperate with some betting operators to stop corruption.

M6 – Enquete Exclusive – Sunday, June 1, 2008 &#8212- Paris sportifs: Quand la Mafia s&#8217-en mele&#8230- &#8211- [Sports bets: When the Mafia gets involved…]

1.6 million French people watched that TV show.

IN-PLAY BETTING: BetFair is already compliant with the Gambling Commissions first pointer.

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The UK Gambling Commission is not &#8220-coming after BetFair and Betdaq&#8221-. They&#8217-ll be looking at all operators. Almost all UK-based betting operators (betting exchanges and bookmakers) offer &#8220-in-play&#8221- betting, these days.

The UK Gambling Commission&#8217-s approach (so far) to in-play betting is to insist that bookmakers and betting exchanges tell bettors and traders that &#8220-live&#8221- TV reporting of sports events is actually delayed a bit &#8212-and that some people may be watching the action ahead of them.

Only one betting company in the UK is already compliant with this standard, and displays warnings to its customers: BetFair.