Ebola Bet Followup
By Bryan Caplan
I’m pleased by the high quality of comments on my Ebola bet, as well as the unusually high number of people willing to put their money where their mouth is. First, the takers:
I’ll take the bet (first form), not because I have any particular
expertise or strong concern about ebola. (I do not believe closing US
borders is justified by the threat, and wouldn’t even if we knew 300
resultant deaths were a certainty.) But I am sceptical of some of the
comforting assumptions of your mainstream scientists…
I acknowledge my reputation is insufficient to give you confidence in
repayment, therefore I propose to transfer $100 to you on your
acceptance. If you win the bet, you need never repay it. If you lose
the bet you transfer me $251 in January 2018. (Or suggest your own
estimate for the future value of the 2x$100 – which would be worth
hearing in itself. 🙂
Troy’s payment proposal seems fair enough to me. Troy, please email me and I’ll send you my address or Paypal info.
Bryan – I’ll take that bet. Figure out a way to determine my reliability as a counterparty.
I hope you win.
I’m happy to offer you the same terms as Troy. Is that amenable to you?
Next, the counter-offers:
I would take the bet with the proviso that it be cancelled in the event
significant travel restrictions are imposed, since that would render the
bet moot on settling the underlying policy question.
Can you propose a neutral measure of when travel restrictions become “significant,” Mike?
You win $30 if by January 1, 2018 Ebola has killed less than ten
thousand people in the United States. I win $3,000 if by January 1,
2018 Ebola has killed ten thousand or more people in the United States.
To avoid bad publicity if I win pay the money to one of the top
Givewell charities. If you win I will pay you directly. I offer you
this bet for 48 hours.
I’ll offer you $1000 against your $30, James. Interested?
Last, what appears to be a hypothetical bet rather than an offer:
The Ebola risk is a small risk of a high number of deaths.
Consider the bet
less than C number of Ebola deaths (x):
I pay you C-x
more than C number of deaths:
you pay me x-C
What C would you be willing to accept under these terms. My bet is
that it would be pretty high. Who would risk their life savings?
This is a wonderfully creative offer. If I were single I’d entertain it, and probably set C=1000 or so. Being married, I’m not going to make an open-ended bet.