Could Gambling Save Science: Encouraging An Honest Consensus

Visiting Researcher, The Foresight Institute
P.O. Box 61058, Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA 510-651-7483
To appear in Social Epistemology, 1992. (version appeared: in Proc. Eighth
Intl. Conf. on Risk and Gambling, London, 7/90.)

C O U L D G A M B L I N G S A V E S C I E N C E?
Encouraging an Honest Consensus

The pace of scientific progress may be hindered by the tendency of our
academic institutions to reward being popular, rather than being right. A
market-based alternative, where scientists can more formally "stake their
reputation", is presented here. It offers clear incentives to be careful
and honest while contributing ...

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a market-based
alternative called "idea futures" is suggested. It is described through
both a set of specific scenarios and a set of detailed procedures. Over
thirty possible problems and objections are examined in detail. Finally, a
development strategy is outlined and the possible advantages are summarized.


THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION Four centuries ago, some Europeans complained
that the existing academic institutions were biased against them. Insiders,
it was said, were "inflated by letters" and shunned anyone who dared
"speculate on anything out of the common way" [De]. Outsiders --
astrologers, chemists, and people like Bacon and Galileo -- argued that
they and their theories should be judged by how well they agreed with
observations, and not by how they agreed with the authorities of the day
[Gal]. This was the age of utopias [Whi], as these rebels debated possible
academic reforms and imagined whole new social institutions, for both
academia in ...

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that there are no obvious
reasons why the changes I will propose should make teaching worse.}

As currently practiced {footnote: Early peer reviewer consisted more of
personally observing experiments and trying to reproduce analyses.} peer
review is just another popularity contest, inducing familiar political
games; savvy players criticize outsiders, praise insiders, follow the
fashions insiders indicate, and avoid subjects between or outside the
familiar subjects. It can take surprisingly long for outright lying by
insiders to be exposed [Red]. There are too few incentives to correct for
cognitive [Kah] and social [My] biases, such as wishful thinking,
overconfidence, anchoring ...

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Could Gambling Save Science: Encouraging An Honest Consensus. (2008, August 18). Retrieved October 18, 2018, from
"Could Gambling Save Science: Encouraging An Honest Consensus.", 18 Aug. 2008. Web. 18 Oct. 2018. <>
"Could Gambling Save Science: Encouraging An Honest Consensus." August 18, 2008. Accessed October 18, 2018.
"Could Gambling Save Science: Encouraging An Honest Consensus." August 18, 2008. Accessed October 18, 2018.
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Added: 8/18/2008 06:00:02 AM
Category: Science & Nature
Type: Free Paper
Words: 16316
Pages: 60

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