I'm still thinking about the people who believe the Pentagon was doing a good thing when it set up a political-calamity betting pool. I find myself wondering how far these people are willing to go, in their own lives, in support of their belief in the predictive power of the market's Invisible Hand. If these people really believe that aggregated opinion from widely scattered non-experts motivated by the potential for a payoff does a better job at predicting the future than expert opinion, shouldn't they demonstrate that faith by basing medical decisions in their own lives on online betting pools?
Doctors, after all, are "experts," and doctors often make mistakes -- missed diagnoses, incorrect treatments -- or simply fail to pull patients through despite their best efforts. Maybe it's not enough to say that this is just because some diseases are relentless, or because doctors are human and therefore fallible. Maybe those who trust doctors in the face of a medical calamity just aren't thinking outside the box. Maybe online betting pools are the answer.
Say you're a firm believer in the market and you learn that you have prostate cancer. Doctors can't predict which prostate cancers will proceed rapidly -- some are aggressive, others grow slowly over years. Do you have your prostate removed, knowing that you might have a truly nasty, aggressive tumor, or do you do nothing -- "watchful waiting" -- and hope you have a slow mover?
It seems to me that a true believer in the market would turn to the superior predictive skill of an on-line betting pool, and would base treatment decisions, in whole or in part, on what that pool says.
This would be different from an online support group made up of people with the disease, or helping someone cope with the disease -- anyone could participate in the online pool. And that's appropriate, of course, because expertise isn't really important -- what's important is the marketplace, the power of the profit motive to generate right answers.
Won't some firm believer in markets try this? After all, it's only logical.