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There might be one someplace with reference to index funds -- buying a representative portfolio of 'YES' on all the various world religions.

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Aug 28, 2023·edited Aug 28, 2023

(1) "the biggest NO bets were superforecasters, people on the leaderboards, and rationalist celebrities"

Well I'm glad to be in such elevated company, but I was going "Nah" based on "it's never been done before and yeah yeah one of these days I know but not this time".

(2) I think prediction markets, as described in how they're behaving above, are working. Maybe not the way intended to be working by hopeful optimists who thought they'd all be about high-minded truth-seeking, but the way I imagined they'd work: when there's money to be made, people will concentrate on "how do I make the most money?" not "how do I answer this question best?"

(3) The political betting looks interesting; so people think DeSantis has shot his bolt and Ramaswamy isn't all that?

(4) I appreciate the use of Catholic iconography of the Sacred Heart to represent Christ, not any Protestant version (accept no imitations!) 😀 August 31st isn't a particular feast day of any note; if they put it for the Feast of Christ the King (last Sunday of Ordinary Time) then I might wonder if somebody knew something.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Christ_the_King

Yeah yeah one of these days... 😁

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Ramaswamy has no real path to the nomination. Right now Trump is cleaning up with the lower-class base, so the rest of the candidates are competing for the upper-class right wing intellectuals and the Christians who take the morality stuff seriously enough to dislike Trump. The options are either:

1. Trump wins

or

2. Trump goes to jail and there's a last-minute panic to nominate someone who can actually campaign.

Vivek doesn't have the political acumen or the broad appeal to triumph in scenario 2. I think the randos are somewhat undervalued for this reason.

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> 2. Trump goes to jail and there's a last-minute panic to nominate someone who can actually campaign.

Wouldn't this automatically be DeSantis ?

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Probably, but DeSantis doesn’t have the raw charisma that American voters crave. Even Joe Biden has folksy charm.

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Well if we're talking about raw charisma, Hillary didn't have a snowball in Hell's chance on that score and yet she got the nomination (because It Was Her Turn Now).

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

Notice also that Hillary lost in the general.

To some degree that fact is why current Democrats are much more worried about general electability.

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It sounded to me like he wasn't running for the Republican nomination, but instead running for Trump's VP pick. I don't know what his long-term plan could be; maybe he thinks he can walk enough of a line to be a party-unifying candidate in future elections? And of course maybe they win and then Trump dies in office.

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Other ways Trump could win and not serve out his term:

- resignation (lolno)

- impeached again and actually removed (unlikely, for the same reason the first two didn't work)

- sick and Amendment XXV section 4 invoked

- imprisoned and Amendment XXV section 4 invoked

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And maybe the horse will learn to sing.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

> - imprisoned and Amendment XXV section 4 invoked

AIUI that amendment allows for the removal of the President from office if he cannot perform his (or her) duties. Presumably it doesn't preclude them from being voted President in the first place.

So if Trumpy won while in jail surely the first thing he could and would do is grant himself a pardon so he would immediately be released and then free to perform his duties, and the amendment could no longer apply.

(I don't know if he could pardon himself for convictions in a state court. I vaguely recall it was only those of a federal court.)

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First Thug Life President? You think there aren't people out there who'd vote for him based on that alone? 😁

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POTUS can't pardon state convictions, no. Governors can IIRC, but New York is a Democrat stronghold so that's not going to happen.

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Many governors can, but it depends on the state - in Georgia the power lies in an appointed board, and they don't issue pardons until five years after someone finishes their sentence.

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founding

New York doesn't have an army. POTUS does (and it includes the thing called the New York Army National Guard if POTUS wants it to). If you are dreaming of the day an NYPD SWAT team storms the White House to drag Donald Trump off to a New York jail, that is not going to happen. And it won't even really take the Army if it comes to that; the Secret Service will suffice.

Donald Trump, if elected, will not be materially incapacitated in serving as POTUS by anything a New York court says or does, so the 25th amendment will not apply in this fashion.

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A president can only pardon for federal crimes, not for state crimes. I thought the Georgia thing was a state crime.

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What part of being imprisoned would preclude him from doing his duties?

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You're generally not allowed unsupervised communications, which would greatly complicate his ability to deal with secret information. He would also have great difficulty commanding the armed forces in time of war (especially if he needed to get on board Looking Glass or deploy to Offutt AFB).

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

"so the rest of the candidates are competing for the upper-class right wing intellectuals"

Gosh, that could garner them as many as twelve votes in an election!

(Pardon my lower class snark).

The upper-class right wing aren't intellectual, the upper-class intellectuals are liberals who are vaguely Democrat or some pink shade of socialism, and in general all of them would probably prefer someone like Gavin Newsom who knows the right fork to use and rubs elbows with the Gettys, such a pity they haven't someone like that in the party (Mittens isn't and wasn't posh enough for that set, the Bushes were the last who fit in even if Dubya had to play the hick for the - ugh - lower class votes).

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

There are definitely a group of conservatives who write in magazines and have ideas. I just don't think anyone listens to them. As Hanania says, liberals read books, conservatives watch TV.

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That's true, but I don't think they're "upper-class" (e.g. Rod Dreher) and the ones who are, are much more inclined to the patrician edge of the party that shades into the edge of the Democrats on the other side; both of them educated, wealthy, liberals.

I don't take Hanania for anything, including that grass is green. I'm a conservative that reads books and doesn't watch TV. If he likes to pretend he's so high-class and all the people in the conservative party are redneck rubes yeehawing over reality TV shows, let him - but he doesn't impress me, and more cogently, I don't think he impresses those he wants to impress (my dad is a college prof! I'm one of you!)

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Not this one ? :-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_Christ

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That one is very clever, and I think it does indicate that the guy is a lapsed Catholic.

If you look at it, it's close to the traditional iconography *except* for the signs of the Passion. (Ignore the winking and grinning for the moment). No nail holes in the hands. No crown of thorns around the heart. No bleeding, wounded heart.

"Buddy Christ" is the perfect diluted-down imagery for the 'modern audience'. He's not a Saviour, but then you - dear viewer - don't *need* a saviour, you're fine as is. He's a pal. He's not someone who has suffered, he offers validation and transcendence on the cheap, with no effort required on your part, and certainly no "take up your cross and follow me". A god with no demands.

It is clever, it conveys everything that is being criticised but unless you look closely or are familiar with the traditional imagery, you won't notice or be aware.

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Kevin Smith does appear to be raised Catholic from what I could tell, so that makes a lot of sense.

I like the fine detail on the Catholic iconography. :) I never would have picked that up!

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It took me a little bit to pick up on it myself! I was looking at the image going "Something seems off about it, but I don't know what (as distinct from the grin and the wink and the thumbs-up)" and it was only after a while I noticed "Hang on...."

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I'm greatly amused by the listing of Jesus under Celebrities. "Wil Jesus Christ return? Will he tour in Oakland?"

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Now! For one week only! Come to the Big City Concert Arena for the JC Reunion Tour! He's back and badder than ever!!!! Don't miss out on your one and only chance to be amongst the redeemed, the reformed, and the revived!

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A story about predictions in flight times? There is a Seinfeld episode about that.

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The same Alexandros Marinos of Ivermectin debate fame?

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The same Bob Ross of painting fame? (I kid, I kid)

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If it turns out ivermectin is a room temperature superconductor, a lot of big shots will have to eat crow.

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This is the unceded ancestral memespace of the Crow people.

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This is a top comment for August right here.

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I agree. It might even preempt top comment for September.

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Literally LOL. (LLOL? "thlol?")

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We're living in the best timeline, no denying 😁

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As someone who's spent years trading on prediction markets, I can strongly confirm that returns are mostly driven by who can take advantage of idiots the most quickly rather than who is perfectly calibrated and accurate. Programmers who build bots that either notify them or auto-trade have a huge edge over regular people who just check in once a day or once a week. Probably not too dissimilar to the stock market, where high frequency market makers earn tons of money despite having very little to say on what companies are actually worth.

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"I can strongly confirm that returns are mostly driven by who can take advantage of idiots the most quickly"

Well, at least that has as one of its effects reducing the influence of idiots on the market

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"reducing the influence of idiots on the market"

Quite the contrary. If you mostly make money on prediction markets by responding to what idiots do (or do not do), then the influence of idiots on the markets is very large.

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Taking “markets” to be “what someone looking at the price of the market will see”, the mark of a properly functioning prediction market is that the idiots have (ideally) no influence on the final price, as they have all been counterbalanced by better traders who will take their money come resolution-time.

So while the idiots are a big part of the process by which the final price is determined, their object-level views should not be setting the final price.

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Yep, I get the theory. I don't think the presence of idiots, or work done to exploit idiots, is ever a positive factor in the quest for accurate final prices, though. The ideal market strips out the impact of idiots and idiot exploiters on the final price, so they're not a negative factor, either; but there still have to be a certain number of well-informed and rational people making realistic bets on outcomes in order to get a functioning market.

And the worry expressed by Scott is that this market was for some time not well-functioning, because there weren't enough rational predictors. The idiot and idiot-exploitation functions of the market were still working well; but the predictive function hadn't kicked in yet.

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I agree with everything except "I don't think ... work done to exploit idiots, is ever a positive factor in the quest for accurate final prices, though."

Think of it as a noise reduction process. The idiots introduce noise. Realistic bets against them reduces the noise.

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The key word there though is "realistic". You can make money off noise traders/betters without ever being realistic - and that's what I'm saying is not a positive factor.

You're right that those who lay *realistic* bets will tend to prosper, and will make money off idiots. But what both Scott and a commenter above were noting is that there is a lot of betting that is simply uncorrelated with reality. Some of it is enthusiastic amateurs/idiots; and some of it is financial sharks looking to profit from enthusiastic amateurs. But neither of these two classes are conditioning their bets properly on reality. And so neither of them reduce noise.

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founding

Realistic bets *on the market proposition*, reduce noise. But realistic bets on the market proposition, pay off in the long term - when the market is resolved, or when it's clear even to the idiots how it will be resolved. Realistic bets on "what will the idiots do today?", pay off tomorrow. When all the people smart enough to reliably make realistic bets, figure out that the way to get rich quick is to bet on how the idiots are going to jump next, where are you expecting the signal to come from?

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

At worst, the idiots provide grist to incentivize participation in the market. It's selfregulating- the worse the market the more free money, but the more free money the larger the pressure on the market to become efficient.

At this point it's more of a toy for nerds than anything real, so of course it's not a useful oracle. The stakes are so low that non-monetary forces can have a real effect

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"as they have all been counterbalanced by better traders"

Exactly.

a) A market consisting _purely_ of fools will pick random prices. Better traders correct that.

b) Parting fools from their money reduces the ability of the fool to push the market in random directions in the future. I don't want fools to starve, but I don't want them actively driving misallocation of capital either.

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Could markets be made harder to game?

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Eventually I think a mandatory random delay will need adding to trading transactions. Or else everyone will be using similar algorithms and everything will be wildly unstable, so that a massive crash could be caused in literally milliseconds.

I realise that probably sounds pathetically naive, and admit that I know next to nothing about trading, and a braking system like that could never be agreed world wide, and maybe the market is self-correcting to a large extent even if decisions are mostly made in milliseconds. But for all we know it may be a potential catastrophe already waiting to happen.

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I was thinking about short random delays, but then it occurred to me that I didn't know enough to have a strong opinion, so I framed it as an open question.

On the other hand, a lot of shark behavior is about moving faster than the other fish, so random delays make some sense. Another possibility might be something like everyone in the same five minute span being counted as betting at the same time, with a slight variation around just when the five minutes start.

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This is actually very similar to what IEX's pitch was (although I think the delay was non-random) - create enough delay to make HFT trades less profitable while preserving the actual capacity to make substantive trades on millisecond (rather than nanosecond) time intervals.

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Building on your analysis, one lens to consider is meme stocks; retail investors are notoriously unsophisticated and so markets that are disproportionately meme-driven should be expected to be more volatile and inefficient.

So to the extent that a market corresponds with widespread public attention, and furthermore lots of unsophisticated investors opining based on news, then you might apply a “meme market” correction.

Of course, lots of liquidity and real money markets should reduce this effect, but Gamestop and other meme stocks show that even in public stock markets, concentrated attention from meme investors can distort a big market for some time.

I think your analysis of “who is investing” is valid here, wonder if there are other signals that would be useful like news article sentiment.

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> I was tempted to blame Manifold-specific factors, like the ability to get starting mana instead of putting skin in the game. But real-money markets Polymarket and Kalshi got approximately the same results

I think prediction markets in general got a huge surge of new interest on social media, and people who didn't really know how to use them signed up to lose $100.

The only one I was following closely was Manifold, but the comments on the market were bizarre. I saw at least two arguments about whether the idea of a probability being assigned to the outcome even made sense! I have no idea what exactly the people on the "against" side of that argument think is going on in a prediction market. There were also a ton of r/wallstreetbets style comments about things like "whales trying to keep the market down" or whatever. Definitely a bit of a September moment for prediction markets.

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author

That was my first guess too, but it's weird that the same thing happened in the real-money markets where people were betting their own hard-earned money.

I'm waiting to see if the Metaculus Prediction on this question (which overweights veterans with good track records) differs from the Community Prediction a lot.

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People are quite willing to sign up to predictably throw money away at casinos, so I guess it shouldn't be too weird seeing the same thing here.

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I do wonder how much of the money spent on "shiny" at the casinos (and they do spend a lot) drives the customer spend.

If you've made the effort to go to a casino, I should think you're going to gamble at least some money.

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I was thinking that social media hype from this might have gotten more fresh accounts started at the real money places as well. I haven't seen anything explicitly showing that to be the case or not though.

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Nitpick: I think "overweights" here could be misleading. It's (in some sense) the correct weight. I'd suggest "upweights" would be clearer.

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>I saw at least two arguments about whether the idea of a probability being assigned to the outcome even made sense!

This is a respectable and relatively common philosophical position, as far as I can tell.

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I wasn't saying it wasn't a common belief, just that it's a strange one to find in a prediction market.

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LK-99: Isn't this almost a degenerate market to begin with? A doomsday bet is something like "There will be a global extinction event before Jan 1, 2024 with >99.9% of humans dead". On such a market you would take a loan and go all-in against. If you win, free money. If you lose, nobody will be able to collect anyway.

The reverse scenario ("utopia bet" maybe?) then would be the LK-99 situation: room-temperature superconductors sparks the next industrial revolution, big money invests in real industries instead of hoarding or playing the finance roulette, everybody wins, losing 10k by betting against is probably a minor inconvenience. Otherwise, things stay the same except free money.

Disclaimer: I do not participate in prediction markets.

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author

I don't think so for a few reasons.

First, I think a real room temperature superconductor would increase the economy by more like 5-10% over a decade, not create infinite total prosperity. There are lots of simple bets that can do better than an extra 5-10% over a decade.

Second, Manifold is play money anyway, so even if the real-money markets were distorted, Manifold should be accurate.

Third, most people expected we'd know one way or the other within a few months. A good strategy if you thought LK-99 was real would be to bet on it on the prediction markets, ~triple your money after a few months, then invest your winnings in the soon-to-explode global economy.

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"First, I think a real room temperature superconductor would increase the economy by more like 5-10% over a decade"

I think even this is overly optimistic. Consider high-temperature superconductors, the kind that superconduct at liquid nitrogen temperatures. They were first discovered nearly 40 years ago, but still have hardly any practical applications. The LHC uses low-temperature superconductors, cooled with liquid helium. MRI machines use low-temperature superconductors, cooled with liquid helium. Even the superconducting MagLev trains that Japan is coming out with will use low-temperature superconductors, cooled by--you guessed it--liquid helium.

Why is this? Because the known high temperature superconductors (YBCOs, ReBCOs), just like LK-99, are ceramics. Unlike with niobium-titanium, you can't stretch it into a wire and coil it around itself 1000 times and still expect it to be superconducting. High-temperature superconductors also have low critical current density, meaning they can only conduct a small current (and produce a small magnetic field) before resistivity comes back. Then there's the question of cost: while niobium and titanium aren't exactly cheap, they're nothing compared to the cost of growing a crystal with the right structure.

All of that is to say that even if we discovered a room temperature and ambient pressure superconductor tomorrow, your default expectation shouldn't be 5-10% economic growth over 10 years. Your default expectation should be that it'll have no practical applications whatsoever, outside some niche scientific experiments.

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Tokamak Fusion startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems created a large-bore 20 Tesla magnet[1] for plasma confinement using a ReBCO/Fe "tape". I am not a fusion scientist or magnet expert, but 40.5 kA seems like a lot of current to me?

1: https://cfs.energy/technology/hts-magnets

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It's a huge amount. People often say that high current rather than high temperature is a better description. A problem is that it takes so much steel to hold the magnets together that it challenges the tokamak's economics

It did take 30 years for a mass production process to create wires out of the ceramic, spurred by CFS's interest

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Agreed. I think Scott was speculating about a room temperature superconductor which is actually usable with his 5-10% increase of the economy.

If we had a magical way to turn copper into a high-current superconductor below 330K, I don't think that this would get us to utopia. The losses on the grid due to electrical resistance are already low (because we use high voltages), so the main area of change would be magnets. It would get us vastly larger particle accelerators (but I don't expect their discoveries to have a larger economical impact than the Higgs), cheaper maglev trains, better/cheaper MRI. The biggest impact could come from decreasing the overhead of fusion plants (but probably won't push us into "too cheap to meter" territory any time soon).

Speaking of the impact of unobtainable materials, I think a material with a tensile strength large enough for a space elevator would push our tech level way more (but still not bring us to utopia).

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

I'd bet heavily that room temperature superconductors would *not* increase the economy by 5-10% over a decade. There are so many materials properties that matter beyond resistivity. E.g., cost, ductility/brittleness, ability to be machined/deposited/patterned, ability to be spooled out, non-toxicity, ability to work across a wide range of temperatures, ability to deliver large currents, ability to fail non-catastrophically, and more. A brittle expensive toxic superconductor might end up finding little application.

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Aside from anything else, a room temperature superconductor wouldn't be enough to improve electrical transmission for the most part. Room temperature is about 72F. Unless "room temperature superconductor" is an idiom which actually means temperatures survivable by humans, you'd need a superconductor that keeps working at 110F.

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The problem with this hypothesis is that it predicts the opposite failure mode than the one that actually happened. If there are is no cost to losing in the Yes case, then it should skew the bets to be more in favor of No, but it was actually Yes that was overvalued.

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Room-temp superconductors aren't as revolution-building as has been hyped. There are limits to how much flux can fit in the wire that are also driven by temperature, in practical operation they are chilled to half of their nominal superconducting temp. In LK-99's case about minus 50 Celsius.

Utopia was never on the cards.

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"everybody wins, losing 10k by betting against is probably a minor inconvenience"

Oh, my sweet summer child. That's not how capitalism works. How much did the standard of living of Eastern European peasants go up when the steam engine was invented? Yes, eventually it improved their lives (or at least the lives of their descendants) but they sure didn't get rich off of it.

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> I do hope this situation will improve over time, as over-eager forecasters get burned and dollars flow from dumb money to smarter.

As we learned from gamestop, NFTs, and crypto, a market that's inevitably going to collapse can stay up a long time with people hoping to make money off the next boost. I wouldn't expect liquidity to ever truly make this go away.

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> I’m struck by how little of the competition at the top was about predictive accuracy

This reminds me of the difference between cash and tournament poker. In tournament poker, the payouts jump in discrete amounts, whereas in cash games each chip is just a dollar or whatever. The result is that in tournament poker sometimes it's optimal to take lines which _would_ be negative EV in a cash game (and may be negative EV in units of chips), but are positive EV in terms of expected winnings.

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Ted Sanders commented above:

> As someone who's spent years trading on prediction markets, I can strongly confirm that returns are mostly driven by who can take advantage of idiots the most quickly rather than who is perfectly calibrated and accurate.

This also reminds me of cash poker, especially online.

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> lines which _would_ be negative EV in a cash game (and may be negative EV in units of chips)

Interesting phrasing. It appears to me that, by definition, being negative EV in a cash game and being negative EV as measured in chips are the same thing. Why is one more tentative than the other?

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I think you're right and I just botched the comment while editing the phrasing.

Edit: Nevermind I remember what I was thinking of. It came he a move that would be EV if you were playing in a cash game vs a perfect opponent, but positive in chips in a tournament setting vs a perfect opponent. The reason for that is that the perfect tournament and cash game opponents will behave differently. If the opponent is the second smallest stack in a tournament they may fold to a bet they should call in a cash game for example.

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Because the value of a chip changes depending on how many people are left in the tournament. This effect is small until you are close to the highest payouts, but gets pretty big near the end. The theory is called ICM (independent chip model).

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Aug 28, 2023·edited Aug 28, 2023

>1: Not a prediction market per se, but British bookies are offering bets on how much Donald Trump will weigh at his arraignment.

Should be "were" offering, since the bet has been closed. Trump has already been booked and weighed in, but the number (215 lbs) was so obviously below his actual weight that "BetOnline" has refunded anyone who placed an "over" bet.

https://twitter.com/DaveMasonBOL/status/1694897511637348395

Edit: Also, unless I'm missing something (which I may be), that line has a couple of other errors. The only mention of such a bet in the posted link is here:

>One bookmaker site, Antigua-based BetOnline, on Friday offered an over/under of 273.5 pounds for Trump's weight upon his surrender to authorities in Fulton County

Which makes the bookies Antiguan (who, while members of the Commonwealth, are technically not British?), and the resolution criteria of the bet is based on his booking (by police, as opposed to the aforementioned bookies), which comes before the arraignment.

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author

Thanks, fixed.

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I edited my comment with additional nitpicks right before your reply; not sure if those are worth updating for.

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It seems like an online prediction market might handle better the cynical possibility of an inaccurate measurement.

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I am somewhat considering betting yes on the jesus one

Is there a 1/5000 chance it accidentally gets resolved to yes? Or maybe that some insane Christian Jacks up the price?

I feel like at $0.02 it might be a worthy bet

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Maybe you could run a pump and dump scheme here on our Lord and Savior's return. Hehehe.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

It does say "August 31st" but does not specify any particular year, so even if you think it means this year, it doesn't *say* that. So buying "yes" could well work for "by August 31st in some undefined year, even if that is five hundred years from now".

Mind you, human society would still need to exist in some form by then and there would need to be some way to pay out, and we'll all probably be long dead by then so even if we're right, we can't claim our winnings (unless we take it that the General Resurrection gives us all new bodies again, and will prediction markets and money still be in existence in the New Heaven and the New Earth?)

EDIT: I think I'd sooner buy "Yes" on the Second Coming bet than the room temperature superconductor one, as having a better chance of happening 😁

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The Jehovah's Witnesses are amongst the groups that had a definite time in mind for the Second Coming, see how that worked out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah%27s_Witnesses

"In 1870, Charles Taze Russell and others formed a group in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to study the Bible. During his ministry, Russell disputed many of mainstream Christianity's tenets, including immortality of the soul, hellfire, predestination, the fleshly return of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and the burning up of the world. In 1876, he met Nelson H. Barbour. Later that year they jointly produced the book Three Worlds, which combined restitutionist views with end time prophecy.

The book taught that God's dealings with humanity were divided dispensationally, each ending with a "harvest", that Christ had returned as an invisible spirit being in 1874, inaugurating the "harvest of the Gospel age", and that 1914 would mark the end of a 2,520-year period called "the Gentile Times", at which time world society would be replaced by the full establishment of God's kingdom on earth."

I imagine if you were one of the first generation of JWs alive in 1914, with the start of the Great War it would have seemed like "yes, the prophecies are coming true!"

There are always groups who will be willing to bet on "The Second Coming will happen on this date".

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Well, what does "Jesus' return" mean, exactly, and who gets to decide?

I ran across some dude late night at Wally World who insisted that Jesus had in fact already returned and was walking the earth that day.

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This whole LK-99 saga was bizarre. I immediately knew chances of it being real were ze... well, we can't use zero, so say <0.0001%. I'm not a superconductivity specialist, I only know that the problem is extremely hard and the payoff is incredibly high. Therefore a chance that a small team out of nowhere made an astonishing leap forward to not "sub-Antactric temperature", not "January night in International Falls temperature", but BOILING WATER temperature superconductor was ridiculous.

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Aug 28, 2023·edited Aug 28, 2023Author

Now that I think of it, I should have given credit to Metaculus, which was much lower, probably because it explicitly weighs past good predictors highly, whereas markets only do so implicitly in a a more vulnerable way. I'll edit this in or talk about it next time.

Update: now checking Metaculus, it was actually just as high as anyone else? I need to double-check what's going on here and whether I'm confusing different markets, different metrics, or what.

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My recollection is that all markets were improbably high.

Is this - at least for now - a structural market failure with no immediate solution? I didn’t bother betting on No, in part because I don’t trust these markets, and in part because I don’t trust myself not to get addicted to them. But even if I did it wouldn’t have driven a “Yes” to 1c. This was a highly technical problem with a clear resolution but a lot of wrongheaded noise. The markets clearly don’t have a mechanism to discount the wrongheaded noise.

Maybe I should bet next time such an obvious payoff presents itself.

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Hey Scott, my read is that while some Metaculus questions weren't immune to the hype, they also dropped to more reasonable, more skeptical levels faster than other sites'. (Note: I work for Metaculus.)

So on Aug 8, the question "Will LK-99 be replicated by 2024" had Metaculus's CP at 5% while other sites were still in the double digits.

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18177/room-temp-superconductor-replicated-by-2025/

Or see this Base Rate Times tweet for a roundup of platforms: https://twitter.com/base_rate_times/status/1688987353866702848

And for "Will the first independent replication attempt confirm the discovery of room-temperature and ambient-pressure superconductivity in LK-99?" the CP dropped to 10% as early as June 28 and remained in that band until resolving Aug 1.

https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18090/room-temp-superconductor-pre-print-replicated/

We had a number of other superconductor questions too, on commercial applications and maximum critical temperatures achieved for ambient pressure superconductors for various years, all available on our Lens on Superconductors page: https://www.metaculus.com/superconductors/

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I find that the "nothing cool ever happens" heuristic works 100% of the time, but of course I'm resolving all of the bets myself and have obvious bias.

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I am decidedly not in the "nothing cool ever happens"camp. All kinds of cool things happened in this century already (example: eyesight corrective surgery became a 10-min minor procedure). But the usual Bayesian reasoning + basic science competence have to be applied.

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See? I would have resolved "Will anything cool happen with optic surgery by first quarter 2023" as "No". With enough bias, it's almost unfalsifiable. (Yudkowskian AGI, total nuclear war, superflu kills 99+%, worldwide extraterrestrial contact, Chicxulub-impactor-sized asteroid, Yellowstone caldera event, or something on roughly the same footing as these would count as 'cool' by the standards of the meme.)

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So the heuristic would have failed the lasik test.

Here are off-the-top-of-the-head examples of really cool stuff I would not bet against happening in the next 20 y:

Space hotel

Cure for Type 1 diabetes (artificial pancreas)

Cure for severed spine paralysis

Fully autonomous self-driving car

I can keep going all night.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

None of those are remotely comparable to the ones Leo cited, except that the self-driving car is one of the necessary components for non-nanotech-based AI Doom.

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Well but that’s just the thing, isn’t it? If “cool” = “impossible/highly improbable”, of course the painted rock with “NO” will suffice. My point is that there are myriad cool and possible/feasible things.

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That's kind of useless, though. Are you a rock?

https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/heuristics-that-almost-always-work

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I'll see your ACX link and raise you an SSC:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/12/might-people-on-the-internet-sometimes-lie/

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It's interesting, and I'm not sure I can explain it, but I fail to see the relevance to this conversation. I was just calling out that one must not doubt all new things without intellectual effort, 100% of the time.

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong." -- Arthur C. Clarke

"When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists, and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion — the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right." -- Isaac Asimov's corollary

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The usefulness of the "impossible" verdict sometimes lies in the time scale given. RTSC may be possible in the next 200 years and is impossible in the next 2. Thus, again, an easy verdict on the LK99.

See also: option pricing as a function of their longevity.

But totally agree with your first paragraph.

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Not 'new', paradigm-shifting. The pop culture sense that we are marching happily along towards the Star Trek future is an illusion, and any big breakthrough in line with it is false.

The sense that we'll suddenly spiral into a Mad Max future is ALSO an illusion, and any prediction of sudden collapse is false.

The world we live in is one in which autocorrect learns to write poetry and eye surgery gets a little cheaper, but your printer still doesn't work, your kid is unemployed or dies from abusing fentanyl, and you can't get anyone on the phone at customer service anymore. If someone claims that something is happening that will be big enough to change this, he's wrong.

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Insofar as someone is probably correct a lot and puts their money where their mouth is I consider that to be the opposite of name dropping. I’d really be interested in seeing a reputation layer added based on accuracy of past predictions.

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Perhaps a quibble, but I'm not sure how meaningful the term "existential risk expert" is. I mean, Ord is a guy with a lot of opinions about existential risk, exactly zero of which have been shown to be even broadly correct?

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Aug 28, 2023·edited Aug 28, 2023Author

He's spent years studying the subject, been published in lots of major journals, advised governments, and is a professor at Oxford. I feel like that qualifies as an expert.

Compare eg philosophy or art history, where someone who's spent years studying it, been published in journals, and gotten an Oxford professorship in it is clearly an expert, even if we're not sure what it would mean for their opinions to be "confirmed".

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It's useful to distinguish between experts and "experts" https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/

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This perspective makes sense as long as you're willing to stipulate that you consider discussions of existential risk to have the same kind of implications as discussions of art history.

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Or discussions of art history to have the same kind of implications as discussions of existential risk, e.g. Salvator Mundi - genuine lost masterpiece or expensive fake?

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Salvator-Mundi-by-da-Vinci

I imagine there are art historians and others ready to cut a bitch over this, and given that it was mega-bucks at auction and has been squirrelled away somewhere as part of an expensive collection, unseen by the public, and probably being held as a high-value investment, I'd be willing to be part of a torch-bearing mob demanding it be on exhibit (even if it is dubious attribution, because I'd be darn interested to know who did originally paint it and how much is restoration versus practically painting the thing anew).

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Feynman, as usual, said it best:

“On the contrary,” I answered. “It’s because somebody knows something about it that we can’t talk about physics. It’s the things that nobody knows anything about that we can discuss. We can talk about the weather; we can talk about social problems; we can talk about psychology; we can talk about international finance—gold transfers we can’t talk about, because those are understood—so it’s the subject that nobody knows anything about that we can all talk about!”

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"I feel like that qualifies as an expert."

This is the problem. There are things in which expertise is simply not possible. And where experts might possibly exist, being able to determine them is a completely differne thing.

"Compare eg philosophy or art history,"

It is possible to be highly credentialed in a field where success or failure is purely a matter of opinion and divorced from facts. Law, religion, the performing arts and journalism come immediately to mind.

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My claim is that using the word "expert" in the way 99% of people use it now, Ord counts as an expert. If you want to redefine expert in a way that disqualifies most other widely-considered experts, you could also disqualify Ord, but I don't think that's good communication.

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Two things:

Perhaps it is excessively cynical of me, but I'd suspect most people (not sure if 99%) define "expert" as "someone on the televised news."

Regardless of the criteria you listed, most people (here 99% is probably valid) -- including yourself -- give an expert the property of "can give useful advice." This might not be explicitly stated but it's obvious whenever "listen to experts" is admonished. And again, in many cases such useful advice is simply not possible. Or in other cases, the "expert" doing the pundit rounds has all the credentials without any demonstration of having this sort of expertise. I'm thinking specifically of law professors who get the job without ever having to demonstrate that they are competent in the practice of law, never mind being able to correctly predict the reasoning behind any given SCOTUS decision.

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Where my issues with Ord's expertise come in is his explicitly quantitative approach to things that have never happened before. I am perfectly willing to concede that one can be an expert in vulcanology, asteroids, etc, but Ord's highest probability takes (engineered pandemics and, especially, AI) are unverifiable and unfalsifiable. I'm not even saying I don't think there are risks there, but I can't see how anyone is in a position to assess his expertise or not and on what basis we should take his views more seriously than anyone else with a general understanding of the issues, other than raw credentiallism.

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"I think Newsom and maybe RFK are overpriced"

How can you not think Harris is overpriced? If I could buy and sell at the listed prices, I could set up a hedge that would guarantee a win - sell 1 "Yes" and 1 "No". I collect $1.25, and am guaranteed to pay $1 whether she wins or loses. Or does the big spread just mean that no one's trading?

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If you plan to hold until the election, Biden NO is obviously the superior bet. If you plan to resell, it seems plausible that a rise in the price of Harris YES might not come with a (or as large of a) rise in the price of Biden NO, for the same reasons that Harris YES is more expensive to begin with.

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I agree the YESes and NOs are messed up and the probabilities don't sum to 100, I just don't think she's overpriced relative to other options.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

Those are buy prices; the probabilities must always sum to more than 100.

Now, it's true that Kamala Harris is way, way, way past 100, which is weird. But that in itself won't tell you whether it's "YES on Harris" or "NO on Harris" that is overpriced. We can tell that one of them is quite dramatically overpriced.

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Who says you can buy and sell at the listed prices? The buttons are specifically labeled "Buy at $0.XX".

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“ That means if you’re Christian, you have to believe that one of these days there will be a version of this that resolves positive.”

‘None shall know the day or hour…’, right?

As long as people keep betting on “yes” with conviction then maybe not.

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>‘None shall know the day or hour…’, right?

Theological version of a "heisenbug", a bug that vanishes when attention is centered on it?

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What would a Bayesian consider "knowing": 99.9% certainty? Perhaps there's some way of using this to get at a divinely-ordained threshold for "knowledge"...

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Aug 28, 2023·edited Aug 28, 2023

"Second, on Manifold, the biggest NO bets were superforecasters, people on the leaderboards, and rationalist celebrities; the biggest YES bets were randos with none of those qualifications."

Does Manifold have a superforecaster index fund? :-)

( One admission: During the initial coverage (before the first report of fraud came out), I was guessing a bit less than 50% odds. I never placed any related bets. My rationalization is that the authors of the preprint, at least, were persuaded by what they thought they saw, so I wasn't guessing a strong no from the outset as a result. )

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Alas, a superforecaster index fund would be self-defeating. If experts are relying on idiots and arbitrage with the results of optimizing prices, an index fund would overcorrect.

OTOH, I could see taking the idea of prediction portfolios to its logical conclusion and have a meta-question: is the future good or bad? Each bet gets applied to a portfolio of existing questions in proportion to some combination of activity and magnitude of consequence. The bet pays dividends as questions resolve in its favor.

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Many Thanks!

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Seems like a bit of a hazard to bet on flight delays. They never did find out who flew a drone at Gatwick, or if there even was one...

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Right. It's very easy to delay a flight, and quite possible to do it in far less illegal/dangerous ways than flying a drone over Gatwick. Airlines may or may not delay a flight over a single late passenger, but are more likely to do it if their bag has already been loaded and they're believed to be within the terminal.

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And then ATC's systems fall over

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How does the Jesus bet work. You bet $1, and get back $1 if he doesn’t return, winning $0?

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No, you get back $1.001 or something silly like that.

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Hmm. So some people are betting the other way?

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Opportunity for massive gains. Y'know, potentially.

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Alright, someone had to ask: what exactly was the "Goblin Mode" portfolio about?

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It's looks like someone collected a bunch of unrelated meme markets in one portfolio.

And of course that someone was Levi, or course...

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> Polymarket Second Coming of Jesus Question

This is why I have a hard time taking these markets even half-seriously except for Kalshi and the old IEM. Here the question is a joke in two ways when it should only be one. A low-effort way would have been to base resolution on announcements from the Catholic Pope. The "serious" questions are way too often a joke in this way too. Question ill-defined, resolution unclear.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

<mild snark>

Could a joke market for a RealDoll application of AGI be:

Returns YES if, prior to 2100, there is at least one month where google hits for

"Don't put your dick in crazy." are outnumbered by hits for

"Don't put your dick in buggy." with a one month search window for both searches

</mild snark>

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> Here the question is a joke in two ways when it should only be one. A low-effort way would have been to base resolution on announcements from the Catholic Pope.

Do Protestants believe in the Second Coming of Christ? What about Orthodox?

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They all do, but it's most straightforward to get an answer out of the Pope. I think the Orthodox would have to arrange a synod, and no one's even in charge in Protestantism...

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Depends on the variety of Protestantism. If you're Anglican, it's the King of England.

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To get a little bit more technical on that, while Henry VIII did abrogate to himself supreme spiritual as well as temporal power over the church in England, later monarchs have been more restrained with the Supreme Governorship and left the theology up to the bishops.

However, while the Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual head of the Church of England, the Anglican Communion is not governed by one body or person; the Lambeth Conference, held every ten to twenty years, is a meeting of the representatives of the international constituent churches but is not a governing body. They may pass resolutions to bring about changes in doctrine or discipline, but how binding those are depends on whether particular national churches feel like being bound by them (e.g. on female ordination or ordaining LGBT clergy).

For legally binding decisions, it's up to Parliament (see the Prayer Book Controversy of 1927-28 where the bishops agreed on changes to the wording of the prayer book but, because these were seen to be too 'papist' in sympathy, the hard-line Protestant opposition in Parliament voted no both times) so while the Archbishop might give an opinion about was this the Second Coming, for an official stance by the CoE, Parliament would decide.

G.K. Chesterton on the Prayer Book Controversy:

"The proposal of an amended Prayer-Book, or rather two alternative Prayer-Books, was not decided for the Church by the Churchy or by the communicants; or by the congregation. It was settled by a mob of politicians, atheists, agnostics, dissenters, Parsees; avowed enemies of that Church or of any Church, who happened to have M.P. after their names. If the whole thing had any historic motto, or deserved anything higher than a headline, what was written across all that Anglican story was not Ecclesia Anglicana, or Via Media, or anything of the sort; it was Cujus Regio Ejus Religio; or rendering unto Caesar the things that are God’s.

I add one incident to contrast Style, among men who had been Catholics for fourteen-hundred years, with that among men who have been Protestants for four-hundred years. A Protestant organisation presented all the atheists, etc., who had voted Protestant, with a big black Bible or Prayer-Book, or both, decorated outside with a picture of the Houses of Parliament. In hoc signo vinces. It would be very idolatrous to put a cross or crucifix outside a book; but a picture of Parliament where the Party Funds are kept, and the peerages sold — . That is the temple where dwell the gods of Israel... We know the world progresses, and education is certainly extended, and there are fewer illiterates; and I suppose it is all right. But those four strong centuries of Protestant England begin with a Book of Common-Prayer, in which, even amid the treachery and panic of Cranmer, and in the very moment of men rending themselves from Rome and Christendom, they could lift in such sublime language so authentic a cry of Christian men: “By Thy precious death and burial; by Thy glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost.” Those centuries begin with that speech of men still by instinct and habit of mind Catholic; and the Protestant civilization evolves and the education spreads, and widens in wealth and power and towns and colleges; until at last the ripe and final fruit of its culture is produced, in the form of a fat black book of a cushiony sort, with a real photo-view, a view of one of the Sights, nicely tucked in to its neat black padded binding or frame... A Present from Ramsgate... anyhow, four-hundred years march from Rome."

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I think all mainstream Christians believe in the second coming, but also that no one knows when it will happen.

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I seriously doubt that. Believing in - or just talking about - the 2nd coming in Europe would be a sign you are part of a sect (J's witnesses, or new-apostolic, or freshly converted Mormons?). If you are a mainstream, you do not want to sound like those. Mennonites (baptists, re-migrated from Russia) do take bible-study serious enough to be aware of a return of Jesus mentioned and so they believe- but even they keep it low-profile. Never heard a Catholic or Protestant sermon taking "the end is (maybe) near" serious. Our mainstreamers - except some crazy grannies - shall vote NO on any on those bets.

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Aug 31, 2023·edited Aug 31, 2023

I meant that it is part of all mainstream Christian theologies. The second coming is in the Apostle’s Creed, so it is often mentioned in Church services.

”I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of the saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.”

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As dogma: sure. 'Von dort wird er kommen zu richten die Lebenden und die Toten' (German version without "again" - 'wieder' as in 'Wieder-gänger' - also no "again" in Latin in the Apostolic version you quote: "inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos" - though the Nicänum version has it (iterum): "Et iterum venturus est cum gloria"), so yeah, second coming is ok, though it shall look very different from the first. ;)

As for 'mainstream Christians': not on my side of the Atlantic. :D

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" A low-effort way would have been to base resolution on announcements from the Catholic Pope."

I don't know if I trust someone who's pre-selected for being maximally willing to believe miraculous stories involving Jesus. I'd pick Richard Dawkins.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

"I don't know if I trust someone who's pre-selected for being maximally willing to believe miraculous stories involving Jesus."

On the other hand, we also have systems set up to investigate and winnow out false reporting. Very few will take an alleged miracle, vision or apparition on face value. There's a whole checklist of "is the person alleging this trustworthy but mistaken, deliberately lying, mentally disturbed, over-enthusiastic votary, etc.":

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/254370/alleged-marian-apparitions-the-subject-of-new-observatory

Look at the long-running dispute over Medjugorje:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Medjugorje

EDIT: My view on Dawkins is that when he comes before the throne of God for the particular judgement, he will indicate to the occupier of same that He should get out of Dawkins' seat now that he's here to take it.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023Author

>> "On the other hand, we also have systems set up to investigate and winnow out false reporting. Very few will take an alleged miracle, vision or apparition on face value."

Can't remember if I've already talked about this before, but when I worked in a hospital in Ireland, one of the doctors told me a story about this. He got a letter from the Vatican saying they were trying to saint (beatify? I can't remember the details) somebody and needed a miracle. One of his patients had apparently prayed to this person and gotten better, and the Vatican wanted the doctor to certify that the recovery was truly miraculous and she couldn't have gotten better by normal means.

The doctor wrote back saying it was a perfectly normal recovery and people got better from her particular disease all the time.

The Vatican kept pestering him and saying they *really* wanted to beatify this person, and could he perhaps very kindly wrack his brain and think up *some* aspect of the recovery which seemed at least a *little* miraculous? (he refused)

I wasn't personally involved in any of this and can't confirm it, but it's left me more skeptical of the Vatican's miracle-verifying department.

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There are three steps generally to a canonisation, and they start with declaration of Heroic Virtue, which means you can call the person Venerable (e.g. the Venerable Bede); then beatification, which is Blessed, and finally canonisation, which is Saint. At any step of the process it may stop.

So yeah, for beatification, you would need one miracle. Depending on who the person was, and how intense the lobbying campaign and who the backers were, there may well be pressure to get it done.

But as you can see, at least there *is* a process in place, and the doctor did refuse to be swayed. It wasn't simply "Okay, you paid for it so we'll issue the declaration that So-and-So is now the Blessed So-and-So".

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I knew "Blessed" and "Saint", but I didn't realize there was a specific system behind why people say "the Venerable Bede"! Thanks for the explanation!

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

Oh yeah, used to be you could just set up a local cultus and declare anyone you liked a saint by popular acclaim.

That's how we got mermaid saints and dog-headed saints:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%AD_Ban_(mermaid)

https://historyofmermaids.com/feast-of-li-ban-muirgen-the-irish-mermaid-saint/

https://orthodoxartsjournal.org/the-icon-of-st-christopher/

Then Rome stopped all the fun and said "No, we're going to do this properly and there will be Rules" 🙁

Bede is now in fact a saint (declared a Doctor of the Church in 1899, only took 1,164 years since his death but hey, that's Vatican time for you) but he's been known as the Venerable Bede for so long, that's still the name in common usage:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bede

"His scholarship and importance to Catholicism were recognised in 1899 when the Vatican declared him a Doctor of the Church. He is the only Englishman named a Doctor of the Church. He is also the only Englishman in Dante's Paradise (Paradiso X.130), mentioned among theologians and doctors of the church in the same canto as Isidore of Seville and the Scot Richard of St Victor.

...Bede became known as Venerable Bede (Latin: Beda Venerabilis) by the 9th century because of his holiness, but this was not linked to consideration for sainthood by the Catholic Church. According to a legend, the epithet was miraculously supplied by angels, thus completing his unfinished epitaph. It is first utilised in connection with Bede in the 9th century, where Bede was grouped with others who were called "venerable" at two ecclesiastical councils held at Aachen in 816 and 836. Paul the Deacon then referred to him as venerable consistently. By the 11th and 12th century, it had become commonplace."

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> One of his patients had apparently prayed to this person and gotten better

Minor nitpick: Catholicism (being a notionally monotheistic religion) does not allow prayer to anyone except the trinity. You may ask a third party (living or dead) to pray for you, though, which is how the veneration of saints works. I am unsure why going through a third party is thought to be more effective than praying directly to god, though.

Regarding the scrutiny with which the Vatican examines their miracles, it should be noted that they found more instances of miracles than the Randi foundation (which would probably require a double-blind RCT with a significance of five sigma for a miracle cure). This might be because they have more false positives, or fewer false negatives, or because some other confounder. Also, few intercessions with saints seem to have found their way into evidence-based medicine, which they probably would if a particular saint lead to better outcomes over a placebo saint (unless one believes that science is so firmly anti-miracle that they would never be convinced or that while god changes the rules of the universe locally to benefit petitioners, he always does so in deniable ways).

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Aug 31, 2023·edited Aug 31, 2023

Catholics do pray to saints, they don’t worship them.

’The Baltimore Catechism, question 223, confirms this by teaching: “We do not pray to the crucifix or to the images and relics of the saints, but to the persons they represent.”’

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-bible-supports-praying-to-the-saints

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How would picking someone with the opposite bias solve that problem? Dawkins would be maximally willing to deny miraculous stories. Presumably you'd pick someone who is neutral on the question (but good luck finding someone!).

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To be fair to the Pope, the exclusion of many gospels from the Bible (the Gospel of Thomas, etc.) demonstrates otherwise.

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I'm with Deiseach on this one: the Pope knows that if he announces the Second Coming when it hasn't happened, the Catholic Church is dead, and that's an incentive to only *announce* it when he's sure.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023Author

I'm Jewish; our experience is that announcing the Messiah has come when he hasn't is a ticket to long-term religious fame and fortune, and you never get in trouble and nobody ever calls you on it.

(except Sabbatai Zevi, I guess, he got robbed)

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See also: the Millerites.

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Cult leaders and established-religion leaders have different incentives; cult leaders only care about getting a small amount of people very invested, whereas established-religion leaders need a large amount of people a little invested.

This kind of "apocalypse is RTFN" thing is good for getting a cult, not so good for maintaining an established religion.

I'd estimate that doing this would lose 70-80% of Catholics.

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Either way the need is to remove discretion from the resolution mechanism. I can have some trust in the resolution mechanism figuring out whether or not the Pope or Dawkins have announced the Second Coming, but little in the resolution mechanism figuring out whether or not the Second Coming has happened based on some vague credible consensus.

Let's say one of these months a new sect arises amongst the Protestants (once again). The leader claims to be the Second Coming and swiftly gathers a billion followers who believe. The poorly defined question gets harder - the leader has some claim to filling the role. Does the question require proof of the supernatural? The Pope/Dawkins question is still an easy decision.

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Oh, from the time of the early Church onwards, there has been no lack of people claiming to be Christ come again, or the incarnation of the Holy Spirit, or what have you.

Gosh, I got sidetracked because I was trying to look up the name of the particular heresy which declared the guy (or one of his female companions) to be the incarnated Holy Spirit, and instead I found out about Saint Lucifer 😁

"Lucifer of Cagliari (Latin: Lucifer Calaritanus, Italian: Lucifero da Cagliari; died 20 May 370 or 371) was a bishop of Cagliari in Sardinia known for his passionate opposition to Arianism. He is venerated as a Saint in Sardinia, though his status remains controversial.

...He may have been excommunicated as is hinted in the writings of Ambrose of Milan and Augustine of Hippo, as well as Jerome, who refers to his followers as Luciferians. There is extant a work known as Libellus precum ad Imperatores, written by two Luciferian clergy called Faustinus and Marcellinus. Jerome discusses Lucifer and his supporters in his polemic Altercatio Luciferiani et orthodoxi ("Altercation of a Luciferian and an Orthodox"), as well as describing the bishop's career in De Viris Illustribus (chapter 95)."

I do feel that if you are a bishop named "Lucifer", you will indeed end up in controversy.

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The superconductor prediction market analysis is lacking

Specifically

- the price spike after some paper came out with theoretical support for LK-99. The ability of the market to digest this information is uncertain.

- The spike also coincide with spike in American superconductor company stock price. So this seems like a whole market thing, not a prediction market failure.

- When the price spiked a minority [not sure how many but at least 2] Super-forecaster [identified by their track record and the tick icon] hold a big [>20k mana] yes position .

- Eliezer Yudkowsky initially on NO switch to YES on that price spike then switch to NO again. In total he gain 1% mana profit on this market, approximately 0 contributing prediction value.

- Zvi only gain 9% mana profit on this market which is not nothing but not much of contributing prediction value.

So my point is you can't say: "look at all these smart/rational people correctly predicting." at the time, a significant [?how many?] number of allegedly smart people already made incorrect prediction.

I mean you can say that *most* people with good predicting track record made the correct prediction this time round. But this is a much weaker claim.

And I am highly disappointed by the performance of Eliezer and Zvi, especially as I've heard claim that Rationality was supposed to help us make better prediction in novel situation, which I presume this is the case.

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+1. A snapshot of positions does not tell the full story. In the long run, you can identify good forecasters. But for any specific question, you're reading tea leaves.

I was strongly on the no side epistemically, but tried to predict market movements over ground truth, and actually lost mana. Lesson learned; apparently I do have an edge on ground truth, but I do not have any edge whatsoever when it comes to modeling other people's actions.

Side thought: manifold's loan system incentivizes much riskier strategies than pure Kelly betting. You don't owe them money when your balance goes negative; you can just abandon your account.

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"Eliezer Yudkowsky initially on NO switch to YES on that price spike then switch to NO again. In total he gain 1% mana profit on this market, approximately 0 contributing prediction value."

Speaking as a cynic about human nature, that's what I'd expect: when the opportunity of making a profit pops up, even with play money or the small limits on the American markets, then people will optimise for that and not for 'prediction value'.

Nobody bets on horses because they want to find out if Moonlight Flit is faster than Skipping Town, you could just have the two horses run against one another in a field to find that out. It's all to do with making money by the best odds, can you back the unfancied outsider who you judge to have potential, can you estimate that Flit is indeed faster than Town but not on soft going and it just rained this morning at the Kempton racetrack, etc. But mostly - can you make money off it? Or bet for fun, but that's once in a while betting for big races.

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sorry I think you meant Eliezer Yudkowsky [EY] was optimising for getting mana instead of accuracy.

I meant he was actively making the wrong prediction and losing mana most of the time and only make it back to the black near the end.

here's the timeline as I remember it [not sure, number approx]:

EY start on NO [20%] -> sell NO at a loss and buy YES at [40%] -> sell YES at a loss again at [30%] and buy NO -> hold NO until now

around the time he sold YES he made this post on LessWrong asking/clarifying about LK-99:

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/EzSH9698DhBsXAcYY/my-current-lk99-questions

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Well done, this post has successfully shamed us over at manifold into buying the market down to 7% 😅

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/1144040519765332089/1145881574601138176/image.png

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If by "replicate", you mean "continue to be a big fat zero", that's a resounding YES from me 😁

What odds can I get on that, assuming I was ever able to place a bet? 😉

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

>>either a prediction market will be good, or you could make lots of free money

Is this even true? I've never worked with prediction markets before but I did look into it for LK99 (since I was pretty certain the markets were way overvalued), and as far as I could tell between legal and other frictions, for an American citizen resident in America, I could only have made a small amount of actual dollars, by tying up capital for a substantial time, and even that would have required me to invest a large amount of time (and run the risk of losing my money despite being right on the object level question because I didn't understand how e.g. Kalshi worked).

Stock market levels of `if you can spot a market mispricing you can make a killing' certainly did not seem to apply.

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author

I think you could have made five digits in a few weeks on Kalshi, but I agree that specific phrasing assumes there are good low-friction real-money prediction markets, which is more aspirational.

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Opportunities like this make me wish I was smart enough to understand how prediction markets worked (and liquid enough to invest a bundle) because boy, were there a lot of dollar bills lying on the ground for that one. The triumph of techno-optimism over good sense. Get in fast, do the needful, make a killing, get out fast.

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> Also: “The resolution source for this market will be a consensus of credible sources.”

In other words, they're admitting that they can't resolve that market and they're not going to pretend that it might ever resolve Yes.

Note that this means No is the only possible side to bet on regardless of whether you believe Christ will return by August 31, handily explaining the current pricing.

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Eh, as someone who believes in the Second Coming, when it happens, it'll be undeniable. You won't need the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to give a "yes/no" weighing in on "is this really Him?"

You only ask for the consensus of credible sources when it's a guy claiming he's the reincarnation of Jesus and also Moses and Buddha, and mostly that one comes to "No".

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Of course, when it does happen, what use do you have for money? A much better bet on the Second Coming is to take your prediction market money and donate it to charity instead.

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This assumes that god judges you the way an utilitarian would and not like a Kantian would.

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Voting "yes" seems like a lose-lose proposition. If the Second Coming doesn't happen, you lose your money. If the Second Coming does happen, everyone will lose all the money since they'll be too busy running from the demon locusts or whatever (unless they're one of the lucky few, but money is still worthless in Heaven).

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> Note that this means No is the only possible side to bet on regardless of whether you believe Christ will return by August 31, handily explaining the current pricing.

Note that even though Polymarket and Manifold are at <1%, there *are* a couple of YES bettors on either site.

Semi-unrelatedly, I note that people have been waiting for Jesus Christ to return for the past ~2000 years, but August 31 is in 2 days. Thus, I'm guessing that the true probability (assuming that the original creator/creators of the Polymarket market didn't have a secret vision that specifically pointed out the month of August) is about (2 days)/(2000 years) = 3e-6.

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Manifold said on Twitter that they had tons of new traders who swamped the expert traders and pushed the price up a ton. The best traders were much more skeptical and the new sign-ups bet the whole farm on Yes.

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This is what I'd expect to happen when prediction markets get opened up to the general public, or at least get known enough for new entrants. I honestly never got the idea that they'd be a better way of working out 'correct' answers, unless the idea was that they would be confined to a small group of experts and the rationalists (and as we've seen, even the rationalists start pulling strokes and developing stratagems to 'win' or make (play) money rather than 'the wisdom of crowds will cluster round the most nearly correct answer').

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In a real-money market (i.e. not Manifold), it doesn't matter in the medium-to-long-run if there's a lot of dumb money; if the experts don't have enough capital to keep pace, then a) they're making great returns so their capital will rapidly increase, b) they're making great returns so they can borrow money and/or attract investment money to bet with. The analogous claim to what you're making is "if I bring a big enough truckload of money to pour onto the street in an urban area, then the ground will still be covered in money tomorrow" - technically there is such a number, but it is extremely large because the more you throw in, the more people are attracted to pick it up.

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> RIP Yevgeny

This seems to have been something of a self-inflicted wound? Why was he on a plane flying out of Moscow? Wasn't he supposed to be in Belarus?

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The consensus seems to be that he was a fool who believed that Putin forgave him due to their long-time "friendship".

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I do find it hard to believe he was that stupid, so there must have been something in the background that convinced him it was worth taking the risk; maybe Putin really is that charismatic and convincing in person ("my dear old friend!") in contradiction to the book review version of him, or maybe Prigozhin gambled that he had enough support/clout/kompromat that Putin wouldn't move this fast on him.

Turns out he was wrong. I think everyone expected this to happen, it really was just a matter of "by the end of the year? or later?"

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Well, the whole "rebellion" seemed pretty foolish as well, or I guess misinformed, to put it more charitably. Prigozhin appeared to sincerely believe that Russian MoD's brutal incompetence is somehow independent from Putin's leadership, and changing its figureheads would somehow fix systemic issues. This is of course a long-standing staple of Russian propaganda (the Tsar is good, any and all faults lie with his underlings), but that someone who had supposedly seen first-hand how things really are behind the curtain still wasn't immune from it is pretty baffling.

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I think we don't know what was really going on with that at all, I have no idea what he was trying to do.

The only thing that makes sense in any kind of way to me is that he was trying to oppose the MoD attempting to fold the Wagner group in with the army, and he maybe (maybe) tried presenting that to Putin as "I'm not rebelling against *you*, but the empire-builders in the MoD who are trying to take my guys as their personal army". Maybe he did blame the personal rivals in the MoD as the ones trying to weaken him.

I think it'll be years later when somebody gets the chance to dig into whatever documents are still around from both sides before we know precisely what was going on. But whatever way you slice it, it was a dumb move.

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Sure, but if he wasn't a fool, he must've understood that an open challenge to the MoD is the same as open challenge to Putin's authority, both in his hold on power and in his judgement, after all, he appointed those figureheads himself and could remove them at any time. My pet theory these days is that Putin always knew that Prigozhin was a fool whom he could easily manipulate, which is mainly why he was trusted with a personal army.

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Aug 29, 2023·edited Aug 29, 2023

That's why I think we don't really know what was going on in full, if Prigozhin was that stupid he never would have survived this long. Yes, he made a very big fatal last mistake, but he managed to get and hold power up until then. He can't have been a *total* idiot, and if he really was that dependent on Putin, he would have let the MoD take over Wagner Group, secure that this was what his pal Vlad wanted and that he personally would come out okay once the dust settled.

Maybe he did get over-confident and thought that the way Ukraine was going, Putin was losing his grip on things and that someone or several someones were plotting to overthrow him, so that going when he did was the best chance to beat the MoD and maintain control over his mercenaries, and that the winners of the post-Putin putsch would be more favourable to make a deal with. In which case he was very, very wrong.

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founding

Prigozhin was backed into a corner. The Russian MoD was taking Wagner away from him, and Putin was letting that happen in spite of Wagner having given him something vaguely resembling a victory when the MoD had only defeat on its ledger. And Prigozhin without Wagner is a nobody. If that's not bad enough (and it probably is bad enough on his own), he's a nobody who almost certainly still has enemies but isn't useful enough for anyone to want to protect him.

And the plan was apparently to take Rostov-on-Don by coup de main *while Shoigu and Gerasimov were there*. If that had worked, Prigozhin could have presented Putin with a fait accompli - Prigozhin can absolutely and uncontestably ensure that Shoigu and Gerasimov will never lead the MoD again, so how does Putin want to handle the inevitable leadership transition? The march on Moscow was Plan B when it became clear that Shoigu and Gerasimov weren't in Rostov-on-Don, and the penalty for trying to take Moscow by force of arms is no greater than that for seizing Rostov.

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>Putin was letting that happen in spite of Wagner having given him something vaguely resembling a victory when the MoD had only defeat on its ledger.

It's not that simple. Wagner required constant supplies, support and reinforcements from the MoD, and all the while Prigozhin was very publicly conducting his feud with its leadership, contrary to Putin's express wishes. Putin mainly wanted Bakhmut for propaganda purposes, and Prigozhin's prima donna antics directly undermined that, what's worse, among the key nationalist demographic. Obviously Putin himself signed off on curtailment of Wagner's independence.

>so how does Putin want to handle the inevitable leadership transition?

Through gritted teeth, while becoming even more gung ho about assasinating Prigozhin at the first opportunity? He doesn't really achieve anything even in this scenario, other than a worse humiliation of Putin I suppose.

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founding

You correctly explain *why* Putin and the MoD wanted Wagner taken away from Prigozhin. That doesn't change the fact that taking Wagner away from Prigozhin backs him into a corner where he has to take decisive action.

I suppose the decisive action could have been, "Defect to Ukraine and take Wagner with him", or "fly to Africa, taking Wagner with him, and renaming Mali the Republic of Wagneristan". I doubt those would have worked out any better for him, though.

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I've wondered whether he was coerced onto the plane, but I don't know how that would work.

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There are many, many ways to die in Russia* without taking a small plane (taking one is a risky move in itself, but if 20% bet on your death this year anyway, I guess: whatever). *Drinking tea, walking over a bridge, standing near a window. Being in Belarus or in London does not make you safer, either.

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He was supposed to be in Belarus. So yes, by definition, he was safer in Belarus than he was outside of Belarus, because being somewhere other than Belarus is a deliberate provocation.

Your comment reads like "Bees can kill you at any time, whether you're attacking their hive or not. It's no more dangerous to attack a hive than to give it a wide berth."

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