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Better Learning Through Better Betting

Pundits should bet on the accuracy of their predictions to help determine whose analysis proved closer to the truth. The challenge is to design wagers that are well-defined and that reflect the complexity of the question they seek to resolve.

PHILADELPHIA – The course of public debate has become depressingly familiar. It often begins with a surprise – for example, Donald Trump, the real-estate tycoon turned reality TV star, defies the odds to become the US Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee. The pundits dive in. Why is it happening? What does it mean? What will come next?

After a time, the future that was being debated is revealed. In an ideal world, everyone would acknowledge which forecast proved correct. Lessons would be learned. People would change their thinking accordingly. Collectively, we would all be a little wiser.

But this is a less-than-ideal world. All too often, instead of learning lessons, the pundits just continue arguing. They dispute what happened. They disagree about who predicted which outcome. No minds are changed. Collectively, we become no wiser.

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