Friday, August 11, 2006

Honesty, it's such a lonely word

Two of the most honest constructs in my experience: emotions and markets.

Emotions are, of course, personal. Without being led by the intellect and followed up by consistent discipline, unconstrained emotions will lead to certain destruction. Fear will do that. So will greed, as many a TS member who's deposit quickly plummets to $0.00 has proven. But you can't fake an emotion. Joy, anger, peace ... it is what it is when you feel it.

Markets are interpersonal. Not so much relational, they are the transactional potential and realization of agreements over time. And unlike the individualism of emotion, more than one person must agree on a price to make it real, which is why the market mechanism and the price information it yields can be so valuable in informing public policy.

My good friend Chris Masse, the hardworking and pioneering predictive information markets blogger, had his response to the Freakonomics North Korean missile test blog post removed. Steve Levitt is perhaps the leading academic advocate of Tradesports. Here is Masse's censored comment, and here is a brief excerpt:

Thanks for airing this controversy. You’re brave.

I’d like to say to your readers that very few scholars have dared expressing their viewpoint publicly, because scholars need the data coming from TradeSports (and BetFair) to feed their research and publications. They fear retaliation from TradeSports (which has already retaliated against me for airing this dispute).

As you said perfectly, this issue is complex and there’s no clear cut. As I wrote, all opinions are respectable (expire to 0; expire to 100; unwind all trades and void all bets; or pay both sides).
Conflict is inevitable, even between people in whom I hold such high esteem. What strikes me as weird about this particular incident, is how Steve Sailer gets away with so much blood with his comments on the Freakonomics blog, and Masse doesn't get the same consideration. Perhaps Sailer's rants fuel a profitable controversy, while Masse's line of thought is unprofitable for the Freakonomics franchise. Just as Claudia Rosett is certainly not helping the UN with their fundraising. Basically a situation where the profit motives cannot be settled by a market, and people must resort to swords or words.

But before I am able to accuse Levitt of censorship, I'd like to know what his comments policy is. I had one of my comments there removed as well, and that contained 3 links to AEI-Brookings.

UPDATE: Masse's comment is back. So is mine. I am glad I stopped short of accusation. One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright.

No comments:

Post a Comment