Watch Bryan Caplan and EconLog get their heads stuck in the sand. Like really, incredibly stuck.

To his credit, Bryan Caplan just wanted to put his skin in the game against a some idolatrous slave of the endlessly whipped and pegboyed John Kerry.i It’s just a crying shame that Caplan goes about it as brokenly and as hopelessly as the little kid who wants to be astronaut when he grows up and so he job shadows the bus driver because “It’s the biggest machine I could find !”

Caplan’s pitch :

John Podhoretz:

The United States and its allies have struck a deal with Iran that effectively ensures that it will be a nuclear state with ballistic missiles in 10 years, assuming Iran adheres to the deal’s terms, which is a very large assumption.

Such supreme confidence cries out for a bet.  Draft terms: John gives me 10:1 odds that Iran possesses a nuclear weapon by July 31, 2025 according to (a) any major U.S. newspaper (NYT, WSJ, up to three others of John’s choice) or (b) any major international agency (Atomic Energy Commission, U.N., up to three others of John’s choice).  If this happens, I immediately owe him $100.  Otherwise, he owes me $1000 on August 1, 2025.

I’m happy to make the same bet with any prominent individual on their honor, or with anyone willing to prepay me. (When the bet starts, PayPal me whatever you owe me if you lose.  If you win, I refund your money + whatever I owe you + some interest if you like).

To which, I left the following comment :


Why you’d want to use PayPal in the year 2015, much less in 2025 when one can only imagine that it’ll be the latter day equivalent of snail mail,ii and to boot why you’d imagine that USD$ 1`000 will be enough to buy so much as a hotdog in a decade is, well, a bit kooky.

You’d be far better served and far better off making this proposal on BitBet and seeding it with 0.33 BTC or whatever $100 is atm. Maybe you’ll get 10:1 on your initial wager, but maybe you’ll get 100:1 or even 1`000:1. Either way, the market will decide and you’ll open the door to a lot more action than just Mr. Kerry, who may not even be on this side of the green grass when the bet’s resolved.iii

Just a thought. Cheers.

Now this comment that was held in moderation pending review, as is customary when commenting for the first time on a blog, as was the case here, but then came a really rather surprising e-mail follow-up from the blog’s Editor  :

Hi, Pete.

Thanks for your EconLog comment, quoted below. It has been withheld pending confirmation of your email address.

Please respond in your own words to this email to validate your email address.  A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog. You can read more about EconLog policies here:

Your future comments are precluded until we hear from you. Please respond to this email if you would like your comment privileges restored. This is a routine email verification. We appreciate your interest in EconLog, and we look forward to hearing from you so that we may reinstate your comment privileges.


(Lauren Landsburg)
Editor, Library of Economics and Liberty, EconLog, EconTalk

Apparently, and I have to admit that this is news to me, you can “reinstate” and “restore” privileges that were never stated nor stored in the first place, all while wasting some measure of personal resources making sure that e-mail addresses are “valid,” as if they were somehow scarce and costly to produce at scale. Y’know, like PGP keys or something. I mean, what’s wrong with just deleting a comment that looks like spam ? Besides, what’re you gonna do once you’ve got your precious “valid” e-mail anyways ? Ban it if it starts misbehaving ? Mhm. How very liberal.

This would be really rather annoying if it weren’t also so lulzy.

What can I say, ostriches are funny!

___ ___ ___

  1. iran-nuclear-deal-cartoon-mckee
  2. i.e. Used almost exclusively by those >70 years of age to send birthday cards and gifts to their grandkids.
  3. Though it now occurs to me that the bet was being proposed by Mr. Caplan to Mr. Podhoretz. Why does everyone have to name their stupid kids after apostles ?? ;-)

5 thoughts on “Watch Bryan Caplan and EconLog get their heads stuck in the sand. Like really, incredibly stuck.

  1. brendafdez says:

    I don’t think BitBet is taking bets with resolution in 2025. It supposedly allows for resolution at most one year into the future.

    Also, an issue which apparently isn’t considered is the non-negligible probability that the owner of the key (or well, “PayPal account” :) ) will not make it to 2025, even though they face a more favorable prospect then the dollar.

    • Pete D. says:

      I was quite cognizant of BitBet’s policy, though my understanding is that a sufficiently large seed bet can make room for more long-term resolution dates. Not that 0.33 BTC would be enough, but I was trying to make a point ok !

      As to the expiration of the bettors, this is always a factor. One to be priced in, no doubt :)

  2. […] the passing of your glory days and youth, you’re but a fish in a sea of garbage and your head’s stuck in a six-pack […]

  3. Eli says:

    I think Bryan Caplan’s betting is more about status than making money. A failed prediction is forgotten immediately. A failed bet people remember, and it makes people more careful about what they say.

    As for the comment policy, yeah it sucks. They do what they do and I’m sure there are reasons for it.

    • Pete D. says:

      A bet like this is certainly more about status than money, which is commendable in a world awash with people hellbent on trying to buy the former with the latter, but Caplan’s words are still meaningless unless the money is actually on the line, and he seems to have gone out of his way to make sure that that doesn’t happen. PayPal ? “Some interest” ? Ahem.

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