Spoiler alert - the subject is the next Harry Potter book, due July 16.
Last April, John Tierney explained how gambling markets could draw forward the sort of information that might help to predict (correctly, as it turned out) the next Pope.
Now we seem to have a similar success with another market - British gamblers taking a punt on the next major figure to die in the "Harry Potter" series allegedly have tipped the odds by sneaking a peek at the printer's galleys.
Yes, this supports the "Futures on Terror" idea, but that may need to cool off a while before it makes a triumphant return.
MORE: My advisor on these issues assures me that Ron Weasely is going down, but probably near the Big Finish in book seven. Why? The chess game in "The Sorceror's Stone" foreshadows all - Bellatrix is the White Queen who kills Ron just before Harry defeats Voldemort.
My position since about Book Three has been that Dumbledore is a Dead Wizard Walking - if Obi Wan Kenobi, Gandalf, and JC himself can die, why shouldn't he?
And more practically, until Dumbledore is gone, Harry will not represent the last hope of Good versus Evil.
I can't wait.
UPDATE: Many thanks to Jesse Taylor of Pandagon, who is kind enough to illustrate a point I had made in my earlier linked post. From Jesse:
Predictive Markets? Still Don't Work
...The true application of predictive markets (the futures for terror proposal) really wouldn't work for a variety of reasons - first, someone who reveals a Harry Potter plot, at worst, gets frowned at by the publisher. You start going into a betting room and dropping a few thousand bucks on the Golden Gate Bridge being blown up, you're going to go into federal custody.
Just to repeat my earlier point:
Most of the criticism of this proposal amounted to "reasoning by extreme example", and ran as follows: A contract pegged to the assassination of Jacques Chirac would be a bad idea; therefore all contracts this program might develop will be bad ideas.
...illustrating the fallacy behind this is (painfully) simple - it is easy to prove that driving a car at 80 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood is a bad idea. To then leap to the conclusion that all driving is a bad idea is probably not something most of us would do.
I spent some time today talking to the CEO of Net Exchange, the company that had set up and was going to be running PAM. As far as I can tell, PAM was going to be a market in which there were essentially two types of futures contracts offered. The first would be contracts relating to three categories: economic health, civil stability, and military preparedness. (Contracts would be available in these categories for eight countries.) These contracts would be pegged to indices compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. (There are obviously problems with how accurate any such index could be, but the point is that it would serve as an independent arbiter that could measure improvements or declines.) In other words, if the value of the index on the day trading began was assumed to be 100, a contract might be something like: "the civil stability index in Jordan will be 86 in August 2004." It's more complicated than this, since combinatorial contracts would be available, but in essence these contracts would attempt to forecast predict, in broad strokes, the region's economic, political, and military future...