On-Demand All-Topic Courts

There is not a natural alliance of contrarians. Instead, each contrarian group claims that it has been unfairly lumped in with the others. Sure, they say, most contrarians are wrong, but if you look carefully at our case, ours isn’t like those others; we happen to be right. So contrarian groups don’t like to associate with each other. Each group wants their associates to only associate with their contrarian claim, not with others.

But contrarians could usefully ally together to support institutions that better allow correct contrarians to prove their case to skeptical audiences. After all, while contrarians often elaborate their cases in great detail, typically few outsiders have much incentive to consider those details, leaving audiences to rely mainly on the raw fact that most others dismiss their case while ignoring their details. A process which doesn’t do much to distinguish correct from incorrect contrarians.

As many have noted, a general solution to this problem is on-demand all-topic courts. If you pay enough to such a court, and give it a claim, it will have high quality people give substantial but fair attention to the details of that claim. And if such a court also had a sufficient reputation for being neutral and canonical, then audiences might well listen to it in the exceptional cases where its verdicts supported particular contrarians. And the prospect of such vindication might cause contrarians to pay them.

For each case, such a court could collect three teams: pro and con advocates, and a jury. The pro argues for the claim, the con argues against it, and the jury listens and issues a verdict. If so, the main design questions re such a court are how to ensure sufficient neutrality and quality in these teams. As there is no such court yet, a new court in this space has a reasonable hope to become the canonical court in this space, if it can be seen as sufficiently neutral and qualified.

If we can trust the jury to be fair, qualified, and attentive, then the pro and con advocate teams don’t need to be fair; they just need an incentive and tendency to win. So I propose this process: (A) publicly offer most of the new-case fee as prize to the winning advocate, (B) advocate candidates declare their willingness to argue particular sides, (C) choose pro and con teams via decision markets estimating each candidate’s win chances, and (D) choose the jury via a status app.

The simple status app I outlined in my last post only offers general eliteness. So a status app variation capable of saying who is higher status re particular topics would be even more useful. We might also pay jurors in part in bets that a future randomly-created jury with a larger prize will agree with their verdict. (Perhaps we could even pick jurors using decision markets estimating such a future verdict agreement.)

We’d like to avoid imbalanced advocate incentives. If we create prediction markets on the various possible jury verdicts, then the court could bet in those markets to acquire assets ready to pay off advocates, and ensure that both sides have the same expected payoff, given the market prices just before the court process begins. With this, the two sides would have similarly strong incentives.

And that’s my proposal for an on-demand all-topics court, which could give correct contrarians a better shot at distinguishing themselves from other contrarians. Other than how to substitute for prediction markets if those are illegal, the main remaining ambiguity I see here is how to design and field a relevant status app; I discussed that in my last post.

Note that contrarians with only a small budget to fund a prize might want to use an audit lottery to create a small chance of a much larger prize. Then could might create prediction markets estimating jury verdicts conditional on such a large prize case happening. Such market prices might well suggest that their case is not as weak as many presume it to be.

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