Idea Futures In Lumpaland

Continuing the parable

Dragon markets were an exciting new fad in Lumpaland – any Oopma could bet valued cocoa beans on dragon locations, lifespans, and victim counts, and on how these might change with anti-dragon policies.  At first, instituters and amateurs both tended to dismiss markets that disagreed with favored estimates.  But as dragon markets accumulated an impressive track record, Oopmas slowly became more reluctant to disagree.  Dragon policy became better informed, more dragons were dispatched, and eventually some funds were even diverted from the institute to subsidize dragon markets. 

Yet while some instituters and amateurs came to specialize in dragon market trading, most continued with previous activities.  Most amateurs found it too tedious to specialize on particular dragons to the degree required to win bets – witty widely-read amateurs were invited to more parties.  And most instituters found that winning in the markets just did not impress to the same degree – most audiences preferred eloquence, gadgets, and math as signals of personal impressiveness. 

Prediction markets have great potential to improve info in science and business, but they’ll only go as far as demand for such info.  To the extent we really care more about affiliating with impressive folks, we’ll prefer activities and institutions that better achieve this end. 

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