Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: A hazy, intriguing crystal ball

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  • MxDEJ,

    And what are the chances you're going to credit the comic to xkcd?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish,

    Calling Dr Thomas Lumley, Dr Thomas Lumley to shady statistics aisle.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman,

    My position remains that Labour should burn down Winston's fence.

    Guessing what he'll do, trying to assign probabilities, maintain relations, and all that jazz is useless. I don't think even he knows what he will do until after the election. Until the election he will make that clear. This attracts voters from both 'sides', if you like.

    I suspect, and you'd know more than I, that a good chunk of his base don't like National, but don't want the Greens. Others don't really care between Lab and Nat and just like Winston.

    For voters who do have a pref between Lab and Nat, the risk of voting for Winston needs to be made explicit. Labour sidling up to NZF and playing nice diminishes that message and makes voting NZF seem safe for voters who don't like National. Make them choose between their dislike of the Greens and their dislike of National by saying a vote for NZF is probably a vote for National.

    That message, if sent strongly and consistently, should see (if I'm right) some small shift from NZF to LAB. And possibly a shift from NAT to NZF if they can be seen as a less risky vote for NATS. Which would be a nice dynamic to have.

    Winston's fence delenda est

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Has anyone ever examined correlations between iPredict and future realities?

    Apart from in circumstances where participants are able to steal their employers information and use it corruptly for gain, why should it be accurate?

    And why does Vic Uni run an unlicensed bookmakers? Connections, I suppose.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Has anyone ever examined correlations between iPredict and future realities?

    I seem to recall iPredict having unexplained money movements used to generate cheap publicity articles closer to elections. I think we are a little far out from the election for "proxy for cheap advertising".

    I agree iPredict has been running a while, so you could compare the numbers this far out from what iPredict was predicting at this distance from other elections.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Has anyone ever examined correlations between iPredict and future realities?

    Actually, lots of people have studied connections between prediction markets and actual outcome, including the specific case of iPredict. The foundational reference is The Wisdom of Crowds (2004), and Justin Wolfers and Douglas Hubbard among others have done a lot of work since figuring out whether prediction markets are any good at their job. They tend to do pretty eel, although of course they're not perfect.

    For iPredict in particular, I study I did of predictions about the 2011 election. It’s in the VUW post-election book for 2011. iPredict beat out all the TV polls, and beat out the poll-averagers, too. It performs OK.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Lumley,

    @Rich: The US equivalent has been studied: it works better than polls a long way out from the election. I don't know what's known about the smaller markets here.

    There big issue is still the haziness of the crystal ball, even if we assume the markets are well calibrated. At the moment, the market thinks there's almost a 20% chance of National staying where it is or improving, and thinks the election result is massively unclear. But that's what I'd expect: two years out, people shouldn't rationally be confident of the outcome. We don't know what the economy will be doing and we don't know who will be the Labour and National party leaders.

    For comparison to the 58% implied chance of National winning the 2017 election, iPredict only has a 62% implied chance of the 2016 Presidential election going to a Democrat. That doesn't mean either election will be a cliffhanger -- it's quite likely in both cases that the winner will be clear six months out.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2013 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Yes, I know they have found a legal loophole (I dislike this term, but it does seem appropriate). Would this extend to offering "futures contracts" on horse races, rugby games, or indeed IPL cricket matches?

    And could anyone set up a "futures market" on this basis (perhaps with "futures trading terminals" placed for convenience in pubs) or is the University essentially using its "standing" to gain a privileged exemption from gambling law?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alex Coleman,

    My position remains that Labour should burn down Winston's fence

    I think he's the strongest competitor for their voting pool. I don't know if that means they should fight him harder or sweet talk him, but I think they should face up to the fact that they appeal to people with similar political opinions, the main differentiator between them being demographic - the NZF voter is likely to be older and male.

    There is a third possibility - Labour + NZF with Greens giving confidence and supply. This is one that has actually happened before, unlike any scenario with the Greens in actual government. In this scenario Winston has maximum power, and I think he would like it more than a National Party alignment, as his last hurrah in politics. He'd have achieved 3 main political aims.

    1. His own brand maximization
    2. Getting the dastardly Key out of office
    3. Keeping the dastardly Greens out of office.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to MxDEJ,

    And what are the chances you're going to credit the comic to xkcd?

    That was the official hotlinking and embedding URL – didn't they use to come through with the credit shown? Anyway, I've added that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Would this extend to offering “futures contracts” on horse races, rugby games, or indeed IPL cricket matches?

    They are specifically excluded from sports (all "entertainment" events, IIRC). E.g. they can't run stocks on Golden Globe winners.

    ..is the University essentially using its “standing” to gain a privileged exemption from gambling law?

    You could spin it that way, but I don't think anyone believes VUW is making any real money from iPredict (AFAIK they operate it on an oily rag). The real beneficiaries are the backers who use it to (a) attempt to divine the future and massage their messages accordingly, and (b) generate press releases from stock movement.

    Wild armchair speculation: came about because Hooten wanted a way to challenge Farrar's stangehold on nat data/polling.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • DPF,

    Rob you're putting hope in the fact that iPredict is forecasting National will get 42% in 2017,in two years time.

    At 5pm the day before the 2014 election they were predicting National to get 44% (got 47%) and Labour/Greens/Mana to get 43%.

    The 1% gap turned out to be a 10% gap.

    I think there is a fair chance Winston will hold the balance of power. If so, I hope he will go with Labour/Greens.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond,

    @DPF: Completely agree that prediction markets are imperfect - I remember one saying ACT would get 4, when it actually got 1 very shortly thereafter. Butthey're not all bad - for election 2011 iPredict outperformed all the pollsters and pol of pollsters, including you and me both.

    Glad we're agreed Winston will quite likely hold balance of power though. I'm sure your boss doesn't share your hope about what he'll do..

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Kinda morbid I know but since we are playing with numbers ...

    Winston Peters is 70.

    Average life expectancy for Maori males is 73.

    Does anyone believe NZFirst will exist after Peters?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'm sure iPredict would be happy to run a book on his date of death.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    Completely agree that prediction markets are imperfect

    But then again no prediction method of highly uncertain events is perfect. Even just within mainstream statistics there are a vast number of methods for making predictions, which can give very different results for identical data.

    Prediction markets have the beauty that they can leverage every technique. There is no method that can’t be partially informing a prediction market, nor any information that can’t be taken into account.

    Their weaknesses are that they can potentially be manipulated, and they can have herd effects. Sometimes, of course, the herd effect can actually get it right, the herd may be reacting to something real that other techniques can’t capture. But they can also be spooked by things that other techniques are equally oblivious to. Also manipulation can backfire on the manipulator – it’s quite a hard game to win consistently.

    They’re another data point, and should be treated as such.

    ETA: Which is why I think it's of interest to mention them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Average life expectancy for Maori males who have reached 70 is 79.
    So he should have a few terms yet... though this is assuming WP's lifestyle is averagely healthy, which is debatable.

    (For comparison: in 2002, life expectancy for Maori males was 69, but additional life expectancy for 65-yo Maori males was 13 years –> 78.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to linger,

    Average life expectancy for Maori males who have reached 70 is 77.

    I was wondering if that stat was somewhere and suspected that it would be higher than 73.

    It is true that once you make it past 75 or so you do have a pretty good chance of making it to 90 - another quarter century of Winston anyone :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Also, life expectancy is strongly correlated with wealth, and Winston isn't poor.

    (I'd be interested so see there are any NZ stats on life expectancy crossed by wealth and ethnicity).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    I'm extrapolating from slightly out-of-date life tables (hence recalculation of 77->79 above); but presumably there was a more recent analysis after the 2013 census.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to David Hood,

    I seem to recall iPredict having unexplained money movements used to generate cheap publicity articles closer to elections.

    I umm... lost money betting on myself on iPredict last year. But I couldn't very well back the candidate from the other side. I was just making sure that any newspaper snippets based on iPredict didn't write me off as hopeless.

    My guess is that the "backing yourself or your friend or colleague" effect is swamped by genuine predictions from political junkies who are not personally involved in particular races. And in any case, the overall party percentage is likely to have too many stocks for it to be affected by any individual investor / gambler / "advertiser".

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Also, life expectancy is strongly correlated with wealth, and Winston isn’t poor.

    Very true. However, he hasn't exactly lived a stress-free life and I'm gonna guess his doctor would like him to live a healthier lifestyle, giving up smoking, drinking only in moderation and eating better are usually recommended.

    Of course this is all moot because Winston is probably the poster child for n=1 so all bets are off.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I'm finding it rather difficult reading all this speculation about when a particular named person might die. It feels wrong to me.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Deborah,

    I’m finding it rather difficult reading all this speculation about when a particular named person might die. It feels wrong to me.

    Yeah sorry.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

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