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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 14, 2008 / 9 Iyar 5768

Government stifles the wisdom of crowds

By John Stossel


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Who will be our next president? If you want an accurate guess, don't ask the pundits. Go where people put their money where their mouths are.


Intrade.com, for example.


It's a prediction market, basically a futures market like those where people bet on the future price of oil, gold and pork bellies. But at Intrade, people bet mostly on politics.


The prices on Intrade have been highly accurate predictors of the future. On TV, political "experts" make pronouncements on what they think will happen, but crowds of bettors on sites like Intrade are right more often.


In 2004, TV experts like James Carville said John Kerry would win the presidency. In 2006, they said the Republicans would keep control of Congress. But the crowds on Intrade bet against Kerry, and in 2006, "the bettors at Intrade collectively called every single race in the Senate right," James Surowiecki, author of "The Wisdom of Crowds", told me for last week's "20/20".


Wisdom of Crowds? When I think of crowds, I think of mobs. But, Surowiecki says, "[C]rowds of people can be incredibly intelligent. ... [I]f the crowd is big enough and diverse enough, you have access to so much more knowledge."


The first computerized political market was created at the University of Iowa. "That market outperformed polls three-quarters of the time, and its election-eve forecasts were better than any pundit's and better than any poll," says Surowiecki.


Intrade takes bets on more than politics. You can bet on global warming — will this year be one of the five hottest on record? — or on whether Eliot Spitzer will be indicted or on whether there will be a massive earthquake before the end of this year.


But most bets concern presidential politics. People have made lots of money predicting unlikely events, such as John McCain's comeback.


So isn't this a form of gambling, and isn't gambling illegal in America? Intrade is located in Ireland, and CEO John Delaney told me he's afraid to come to America because, "I don't look good in an orange jumpsuit."


He has reason to worry. Congressional Republicans added a provision cracking down on online gambling to a port-security bill in 2006.


Most banks stopped dealing with sites like Intrade after that, but some continued, including one called Neteller. Its Canadian cofounders were arrested on a trip to the United States in 2007. Now they face up to five years in prison. That seems like an odd way to treat people who make financial activities between consenting adults possible — while providing useful information about the future.


Horse racing, fantasy sports and online lotteries were given exemptions in the 2006 bill. It's OK to bet if you have influence in Washington. Ironically, the U.S. Navy and Federal Reserve use Intrade's data.


That Iowa prediction market begged for special permission from the government and got a waiver that limits bets to $500. "That makes them less accurate," says Surowiecki. "Real money is what makes it work."


America's anti-gambling laws are thoroughly hypocritical. States run lotteries — one of the worst forms of gambling since no skill is involved and the odds are so bad — while prediction markets, a powerful forecasting tool, are stifled.


The Department of Defense once considered setting up a market to predict where the next terrorist attack might occur. The idea died when some politicians shouted it down. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., sneered at "this betting parlor on the Internet." Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said a terrorism futures market "is ridiculous ... grotesque."


Surowiecki says, "These are potentially tremendously useful tools for improving our national security. It's much more egregious not to use them than to use them."


What does Intrade predict now? As I write this, Hillary Clinton's shot at winning the Democratic nomination has fallen to 8 cents, indicating an 8 percent chance of winning, while Obama is selling for 90 cents. And Obama is favored to win the presidency. You can buy McCain for about 37 cents, but Obama is valued at 55 cents.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JUST OUT FROM STOSSEL
Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel --- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong  

Stossel mines his 20/20 segments for often engaging challenges to conventional wisdom, presenting a series of "myths" and then deploying an investigative journalism shovel to unearth "truth." This results in snappy debunkings of alarmism, witch-hunts, satanic ritual abuse prosecutions and marketing hokum like the irradiated-foods panic, homeopathic medicine and the notion that bottled water beats tap. Stossel's libertarian convictions make him particularly fond of exposes of government waste and regulatory fiascoes. Sales help fund JWR.



JWR contributor John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." To comment, please click here.


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