Betting and consent
There is an interesting thing around consent and betting:
- Clueless people can’t give fully informed consent around taking some bets I offer,
- because if they were fully informed, they wouldn’t make the bet, because they would know that I’m a few levels above them in terms of calibration and forecast accuracy.
- But on the other hand, they can only acquire the “fully informed” state about their own bullshitting after losing the bet,
- because once you lose money it is much harder to spin up rationalizations.
This post was prompted by a few situations in the past:
- Offering a bet to a fellow forecaster at my forecasting group, Samotsvety (I feel totally fine with this)
- Offering a bet to Daniel Filan—someone I respect—where I think that he is overestimating something, and he feels that I am underestimating it (I feel totally fine with this)
- Offering a bet to someone I know is a much worse forecaster than I am who claims to be 99% sure of something (I do this occasionally)
- Offering to bet to someone who writes that “I would bet all the money I have (literally not figuratively)” (I offered a specific bet, and would have gone through with the bet, even though loosing it would have been a major inconvenience to the person).
- Incidentally, they later backed down, which I still can’t get over.
- Offering a bet to a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump would not be reinstated after his 2020 loss, where I know the QAnon conspiracy theorist personally (I feel fine with this, have won a bit over 500 EUR)
- Taking a bet that Trump would not be reinstated as president in 2021 after Biden won, against nameless conspiracy theorists on Polymarket (have done this, feel fine)
- Offering to bet to someone who exhibited some symptoms of a manic episode (offered the bet, accepted the bet, then dissolved the bet once they lost)
- Offering to bet money to someone who had some symptoms of schizophrenia that they would not come up with a revolutionary math idea (considered the bet, but did not make it. I plausibly should have, since they keep believing in a similar thing three years afterwards.)
So what I am saying to someone when I offer them a bet is:
I like you. However, I think what you just said is bullshit, or at least uncalibrated. And my reaction to that is to attempt to extract money from you in a way which I think will leave you with less money but with better models about the world and about your own fallibility. Now, it may be that I am wrong, in which case you can take advantage of me, but I think that this is the less likely outcome.
I think that ultimately, I do feel generally fine making bets with people, even if I’m a bit conflicted. In particular, I think that being me being known to offer accurate probabilities as ellicited by bets is a useful thing to offer even to people in altered mental states. But in the past I’ve been hesitant to do that (see points 5 and 6 in the list above). In the future, I’ll experiment with sending this post to people that I think are in a position like points 3-8 in the list, before I make a bet with them.
I’m curious to get people’s impressions on this. Here is a small poll, and comments below are open.