Good News Only Please

Corporate prediction markets have received a lot of press over the last few years, as an exciting new trend.   But press coverage has a serious bias: it mostly only mentions success.  Hundreds of companies have considered and rejected prediction markets, and many others have started them and then stopped, at least for a while.  But news focuses on companies that are still trying them, and relatively happy. 

I used to be quoted often in those articles, until my comments became a bit more negative – that didn’t fit the desired tone.  I don’t blame reporters, I blame the readers; reporters understand that readers mainly want to hear breathless one-sided excitement about new technologies.  Until they don’t; when over-the-top forecasts aren’t verified quickly, readers may want post-fad shaking-the-head "how could they all be so gullible" articles.  After the dotcom bust, few wanted to hear about how the dotcom revolution really was continuing to remake society. 

The important lesson:  Biases that appear in the world we see via press coverage are often the biases readers expect to see, and insist on seeing.   

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