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# Pablo

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stafforini.com

• 3 Mar 2021 19:16 UTC
2 points
in reply to: Quinn’s comment

Thanks, but this post is no longer updated and the link is not broken on my website. (If you think that’s confusing, despite the notice at the top, I may consider replacing its contents with just a link, though retaining the content may make it more discoverable.)

• Thanks for the update!

chaotic History of Economic Analysis

The word ‘chaotic’ was an adjective I chose to describe the book’s content, rather than part of the book’s title. :)

• Related to the ReplicationMarkets example: on Metaculus, there is an entire category of self-resolving questions, where resolution is at least in part determined by how users predict the question will resolve. We have seen at least one instance of manipulation of such questions. And there is even a kind of meta-self-resolving question, asking users to predict what the sentiment of Metaculus users will be with regard to self-resolving questions.

• The probability I would assign to #8 intuitively is about 0,41. Math based on my other three predictions yields (doing the calculation now) 0.476. I am going to predict the math output rather than my intuition.

I think the correct response to this realization is not to revise your final answer so as to make it consistent with the first three. It is to revise all four answers so that they are maximally intuitive, subject to the constraint that they be jointly consistent. Which answer comes last is just an artifact of the order of presentation, so it isn’t a rational basis for privileging some answers over others.

• The contracts are denominated in USD, and they pay in that currency. But you trade on margin, and the collateral can be in any currency (crypto or fiat). In your example, you get back the BTC plus 15% of what that BTC was worth in USD when you made the trade.

Incidentally, TRUMPFEB is now trading at 0.16 (i.e. implied 16% chance that Trump is president next February). This looks insane to me (and I have bet accordingly). I’d be curious if you or others have further thoughts on what might be going on.

• I’m not sure I understand your argument, given that FTX allows traders to keep balances in both USD and BTC, but in any case historically FTX prices have been in line with Betfair/​PredictIt prices, so I doubt this consideration is relevant.

• I’m too lazy to look it up, but I did research this a couple of weeks ago and found that 538 had indeed outperformed the markets both in 2008 and 2016 (I wasn’t able to find data for 2012). This is not very informative, though, since it’s just a couple of cases. Much better is to look at the state-level predictions and use brier scores as a measure of forecasting performance.

• Only the first article in the comment is by Silver, on whose expertise the original poster is basing his recommendation. That article doesn’t discuss mail-in ballots or voter suppression, and in fact his main point is that the time remaining until election day (almost three months when the article was written) combined with uncertainties due to Covid-19 meant that the race was still open back then. Those considerations have much more limited force at present, when only 16 days remain, and Biden’s lead has widened considerably.

If you’ve been at all listening to Silver recently, you’ll know that he thinks his model probably underestimates Biden’s chances. This shouldn’t be surprising, since as Silver acknowledges, in this new version of the model he has made a special effort to build conservative assumptions into it.

In any case, I would encourage people hesitant to bet for Biden to resist the temptation of “throwing in a bunch of considerations” for why the models may be wrong, and instead try to calculate what the correct forecast should be in light of those considerations. For example, if you think mail-in ballots will be a big factor, try to estimate the magnitude of this effect.

Following my own advice, I just built a simple Guesstimate model of the impact of mail voting on the popular vote. I created the model very quickly, so if anyone spots any errors, please mention them below. And if you think some of the parameters should be different, simply copy the model and adjust those parameters to your satisfaction. Note that the effect of “rejected” in-person ballots is not modeled. This effect favors Biden, since a greater proportion of Trump votes will be in person, and hence susceptible to being “rejected” (i.e., not cast due to failure to bring an ID, long lines, inability to find a polling station, etc).

ETA: The upshot of the model is that mail voting shrinks the expect popular vote gap between Biden and Trump by about 2%. If we assume that the electoral college gives Trump a ~2% popular vote advantage, the model implies a drop in Biden’s chances of winning the election from 87% to about 79%. [I modified the model and improved some of the estimates, and now the effect is less than 1%.]

(Disclosure: I have bet a total of USD 12k on Biden, mostly back when his odds where roughly equal with Trump’s.)

• 7 Oct 2020 12:18 UTC
17 points
in reply to: riceissa’s comment

The book is dedicated “for Peter, who convinced me”. Maybe that mysterious Peter is the ultimate cause of Christian’s interest in Al alignment and his decision to write a book about it?

• a frustratingly well-paywalled, yet exhaustive, complete and informative overview of the IARPA’s FOCUS tournament

Since you quote from a section that is behind the paywall, I assume you have access to the article. If so, could you make it available? Or just send it to me (name@surname.com) and I’ll upload it to my site and post a link to it here and on LW. Thanks!

• Thanks for writing this—just a couple of days ago I thought it might be a good idea to get food pedals.

Since you use Karabiner, have you considered using goku to create “complex modifications”? It might help you make your keyboard more ergonomic and hence ease your wrist pain. I personally like to use the spacebar as a modifier key, and control the arrow keys with spacebar-j /​ k /​ l /​ i. You can also set spacebar-a /​ s /​ d /​ f to delete letter/​word forward/​backward. I actually have hundreds of modifications, but these are amongst the most useful.

Also, you may already know this, but just in case: on Gmail, you can enable ‘auto-advance’ under preferences/​advanced, and then use ‘e’ instead of ‘[’, which is easier to reach on the keyboard (so perhaps that pedal is best used for some other function).

• Also it is good that you had here an example of something that a lot of people would view as a negative case (making the invention of the hydrogen bomb faster).

There’s also the example of a work without which the Russian Revolution, and the subsequent deaths of tens of millions of people in famines and mass killings, may not have occurred. But until you mentioned it, I hadn’t realized that fiction appears to be more often credited with having a positive than a negative influence, whereas for philosophy the reverse seems to be the case. Would be interesting to move beyond impressions and come up with a more rigorous way of testing this.

• Some examples (I’m considering fiction generally and not just written fiction):

• The film The Day After was seen by 100 million Americans and was instrumental in changing Reagan’s nuclear policy.

• «President Ronald Reagan watched the film several days before its screening, on November 5, 1983. He wrote in his diary that the film was “very effective and left me greatly depressed,” and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a “nuclear war”. The film was also screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A government advisor who attended the screening, a friend of Meyer’s, told him “If you wanted to draw blood, you did it. Those guys sat there like they were turned to stone.” Four years later, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed and in Reagan’s memoirs he drew a direct line from the film to the signing.» (Wikipedia)

• «Director Meyer and writer Hume produced The Day After to support nuclear disarmament with the ‘grandiose notion that this movie would unseat Ronald Reagan’, and the nuclear freeze groups heavily exploited the ABC movie as a propaganda.» (Hänni, A chance for a propaganda coup?)

• Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon deeply influenced Edward Teller, whose views about the Soviet Union were central in his efforts to persuade the US to develop the hydrogen bomb.

• The short documentary film If you love this planet influenced Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau.

• The mini-series Holocaust motivated the abolition of the statute of limitations for war crimes in Germany:

• «In 1978 the major breakthrough into general consciousness of US citizens came with the showing on prime-time television of a four-part series simply entitled Holocaust, which was watched by nearly 100 million Americans. The fictional drama that followed the lives of a Jewish family, exposed to the full horrors of the Holocaust, and an SS man who rose to a leading position in the implementation of the extermination programme, captured the imagination in ways that scholarly literature could never do. Jewish organizations maximized the subsequent publicity opportunities presented by the success of the series to spread awareness of the Holocaust still further, both in Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
In West Germany a year later the showing of the series was a sensation. Holocaust was watched by around 20 million viewers (around half of the West German viewing population), who were transfixed by the personalized and highly emotional dramatic depiction of persecution and extermination. People empathized with the victims and recognized the monumentality of the crime as they had never done before. ‘A nation is shocked’ was the verdict of one scholarly analysis of the impact of the film.“ ‘Holocaust has shaken up post-Hitler Germany in a way that German intellectuals have been unable to do,’ commented the widely read weekly Der Spiegel. More than three decades after the end of the war an American film, criticized by some as reducing the destruction of the Jews to the level of a ‘soap opera’, had opened up the sense of national guilt. The following year the Federal Parliament (the Bundestag) abolished the statute of limitations on war crimes, permitting further legal prosecution of perpetrators of the Holocaust. The film was widely seen as playing a significant role in the decision.» (Ian Kershaw, The Global Age, ch. 8)

• Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What is to be done had a more profound influence on Lenin than even Marx’s Kapital, and is plausibly a causal antecedent to the Russian Revolution.

• To reasonably conclude that PredictIt’s limits are “limits of prediction markets”—as your title asserts—you need to show either that the other existing prediction markets also exhibit these limits, or that there is a fundamental theoretical reason for expecting such limits to be exhibited by any prediction market. As far as I can tell, you do neither. (You do say that «similar analysis is applicable to any [prediction market]», but you never justify this assertion. In fact, of the six problems you note, I think the only one that may be plausibly claimed to be inherent to prediction markets is #4, and even that one may be potentially solvable.)

• The post addresses this worry:

you might worry about a correlation/​causation problem with that kind of statement. However, there have also been several twin studies that help eliminate this bias.

There is, however, another worry unaddressed by those studies, which wolajacy raises in their comment. This is the debate between the ‘human capital’ and ‘signaling’ theories of education, covered extensively in Bryan Caplan’s book, The case against education. Even if years of education cause—rather than correlate with—increased quality of life and length of life for individual people, reducing years of education for the population as a whole may not reduce those measures much if signaling is the main causal mechanism.