Michael Cannon's Brave Bet
By Bryan Caplan
I’m impressed: Cato’s Michael Cannon bet Karen Davenport, and let her adjudicate the outcome:
I bet Davenport $20 that I could convince her that the following two claims are true:
We agreed on three rules. First, there would be no splitting the
difference or agreeing to disagree — I would either succeed or I would
fail. Second, Davenport would be the ultimate arbiter of whether I
succeeded or failed. Third, if I failed, Davenport would have to
explain why she was not convinced.
After my presentation and a subsequent exchange (mostly about the
second claim), Davenport was unconvinced and she took the $40. She
made two arguments for why I failed:
- A crucial part of my argument — the claim by Helen Levy and David Meltzer that there is “no evidence”
that expanding health insurance is a cost-effective way of improving
health — is not necessarily true and is, in fact, controversial among
health economists, and
- The lives that would be lost by adopting universal coverage (rather
than a more cost-effective strategy for improving health), would be
less than the lives lost during the time it would take to conduct
experiments to determine which strategy is most cost-effective.
You can watch Cannon’s case here.
P.S. Last year Robin refused me analogous terms.