Alarming News

September 30, 2003

An Odd Request

A couple of months back, the Pentagon floated an idea about having a futures market about events in the Middle East. The idea was to note (with money) predictions of war and terrorist attacks in the region. My first response was disgust, as was most peoples who heard about this plan. The plan was quickly scrapped.
Since then, I’ve read a bunch of very interesting things that have led me to rethink my initial reaction. I like to think logically about things, instead of emotionally, and from what I understand of the proposed plan, it would’ve been an asset to fighting terrorism, not a promoter of it.
Anyway, this Thursday, Alex Tabarrok from George Mason University will be speaking to a libertarian group called Junto in NYC. His topic will be ‘Terrorism Futures, Information Markets and a New Form of Democracy.’ The description of the talk is ‘The Pentagon’s notorious plan to use markets to help to improve intelligence gathering and forecasting was roundly denounced by Senators from both political parties and quickly canceled. The ideas behind the proposal, however, are important and have already been put to good use in the private sector. I will discuss how information markets have been used to forecast elections, movie returns, printer sales and much else and why they might have improved the collection and analysis of intelligence information. In the future, a form of information markets may even replace democracy.’
I’m going to be in Ohio on Thursday night and so won’t be able to attend. Is anyone interested in going and either telling me all about it or even writing something up for ‘Spot On’? I know that libertarians frequently take idealism outside the sphere of reality and if that’s the case here too, I’d like to know that. It seems like an interesting idea that doesn’t ’sound right’ and I want to know more about it. If anyone is into going, drop me an email and I’ll give you the details.

Posted by Karol at 11:41 AM |

Do you have any link about the proposed market. It does seem to be skirting the edges of reality.

Posted by: Bobby at September 30, 2003 at 12:00 pm

Here’s one link:

Posted by: Kashei at September 30, 2003 at 12:53 pm

Here is an article making the case for it:,1283,59818,00.html

Posted by: Kashei at September 30, 2003 at 12:56 pm

Better bring a light coat if your coming to Ohio, it’s been pretty chilly.

Posted by: Scott at September 30, 2003 at 4:34 pm

Where in Ohio are you, Scott? I’m going to be in Akron for a conference. Any suggestions on things to do?

Posted by: Kashei at September 30, 2003 at 5:54 pm

I’m in Maumee, near Toledo, other side of the state.
I’ve only been to Akron once and it was awhile ago but I do know there is a lot to do in the area. I’m not sure how much time you have but The Flats in Cleveland is a fun release. Bar’s, food, music on both the east and west banks of the Cuyahoga River. I’d guess it’s probably 45 min to an hour from Akron, north on I-77. I assume you won’t have time for things like Cedar Point, Rock Hall of Fame, Six Flags/Sea World but they’re all close.
Oh wait, there is a Macaroni Grill in Akron. Very good food, and house wine(red). I recommend the grilled salmon, the dish with the capers and angel hair pasta…very very good, never had the other salmon dish but I’m sure it’s good also.
Hope my rambling is of some help. :)

Posted by: Scott at September 30, 2003 at 8:29 pm

Thanks for the links. They are the kind of articles that I would have expected to read on April 1st ! Interesting though.

Posted by: Bobby at October 1, 2003 at 8:41 am
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