Over the decades I have written many times on how prediction markets might help the intellectual world. But usually my pitch has been to those who want to get a better actionable info out of intellectuals, or to help the world to make better intellectual progress in the long run. Problem is, such customers seem pretty scarce. So in this post I want to outline an idea that is a bit closer to a business proposal, in that I can better identify concrete customers who might pay for it.
Yes biases could persist over very long durations, but even so most expect that some biases don't last, so they have a better chance to be judged fairly by posterity than by their immediate contemporaries.
Interesting idea and it might work with tweaks in some areas but I seems to me a big problem here is the very same bias towards elites and those with status in our society you regularly point out.
I mean consider your own arguments about challenge trials on Covid. Surely you believe they should have been given more attention but it seems to me that all the factors which actually causes our elites to dismiss them and ignore them will be present for these future historians as well plus more. I mean those whose ideas are implemented gain status and respect and saying we shouldn't have done that is an attack on those history looks at fondly and who will have entrenched support in the future. And they won't even be killing people so it's all that much easier to say that it was more important not to have challenge trials then (same discomfort but less actual harm from catering to it).
I mean do you think that a loyalist who argued in the late 1700s against the us leaving the uk would get a more fair hearing today than at the time? My sense is a less fair hearing because those who win historical battles win the status and admiration of the future generation that paying out to the contrarian convinced they are right would conflict with. And even if this turns out not to be true you need people who feel undervalued now to believe they won't be in the future which is a tall bar.
“Skeptics would no doubt lie waiting to bet against them”
Would this happen for bets that resolved in 100 years? I think the idea is that they could sell their positions after ~10 years to people who expect to be able to sell their position several years after that, etc, so no individual needs to wait super long for a payoff. Do we have examples of this working well for such long bets?
Paying for a vanity press to "publish" your work might be satisfying to some degree, but maybe less so than getting an official body to admit that you were unfairly neglected.
Note: I'm referring only to the first half of your essay.
Seems to me that what you are describing is a LOT like (at least, if back in pre-internet days) the situation where many ambitious would-be novelists (the "just don't quit your day job!" types) just couldn't seem to get their oh-so-brilliant novels published or promoted by traditional publishers. So, they chose to pay vanity publishers to print/promote their books for them, in the hopes that ultimately the public would see, appreciate, and embrace their great works. Same basic idea, right? Vanity publishers still exist (e.g., Amazon self-publish) and some of them may not be 100% sleazy. There are also businesses that prey upon (oh excuse me, I meant to say "serve") customers to "help you patent your ideas" (all brilliant ones) and "submit them to industry." Advertisements for these sort of services persist, so someone is presumably making money from these schemes (ahem, cough, I mean "businesses"). Is that, more or less, what you have in mind here?
Do you have distant past works in mind that people should have listened to?
My best candidate is probably Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, but the problem isn’t that it was ignored. The problem is that it was noted, praised, and rounded off in popular understanding to either the Golden Rule or the Pietism Kant was reacting against.
Rousseau was similarly summarized as saying much dumber things than he said. And Ricardo... Basically all the important Enlightenment thinkers.... also, Ricardo would have had very different and more accurate assumptions about the rate of return on capital which could be expected, and would be tracking the feedback issues. If return to capital depends on making good use of ideas, the system only pays off if not needed. If return to capital doesn’t depend on ideas, a premise is faulty...
This project might work best if return to capital depended on the non-adoption of ideas. What if we apply it to Marxism?
Feel free to try to develop the concept further, but I expect the most progress will be made in concrete attempts to evaluate past works, as I discuss at the end of the post.
"A work should have gotten more attention if in that case the world would have been more likely to have more quickly come to appreciate valuable truths."
This seems underdeveloped. This is the lynchpin of the entire system! If there's a lack of trust in this evaluation system, the whole project falls apart. This article has handwaved the methodological concerns away by pointing to future values - do you think that's enough for a prospective buyer?
I'd expect further work on this to focus more on developing concrete methods for "the appreciation of valuable truths", as the idea could be intriguing if fleshed out more.