Epistemic status: much ado about nothing.

tl;dr: I look at people saying “I’d bet” on the EA Forum. I find that they mostly mean this metaphorically. I suggest reserving the word “bet” for actual bets, offer to act as a judge for the next 10 bets that people ask me to judge, and mention that I’ll be keeping an eye on people who offer bets on the EA Forum to consider taking them. Usage of the construction “I’d bet” is a strong signal of belief only if it is occasionally tested, and I suggest we make it so.

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:24 PM

Having specific wording for people to indicate that they literally want to make a bet seems fine, but policing ordinary language use in an abrasive and unwelcoming way is a very bad idea. EA will be much more effective in its stated goal if it is accessible, welcoming, and friendly to new people--and people who want to talk like normal people. 

I agree that you are pointing out a downside, but I think that the tradeoff is small, and the benefits of increased betting larger.

I think it's okay to use "I'd bet" as shorthand for "I'd bet this claim is 50.1% or more likely to be true, and I'd put the alternate claims, summed together, at 49.9% likely or less, collectively"

That's how I mean it when I say "I'd bet" and tbh I think that is the colloquial usage too (though most normies wouldn't be able to put it into such precise language when asked what they mean, I think that's basically what they mean)

I think it's ok if you would actually end up betting.

This post somehow connects two  things for (in my opinion) no good reason:

  • Trying to get people to actually bet (which I think is probably a good thing)
  • Trying to police people's language by asking them to not use 'I bet' in a non-literal sense (which I think is a bad thing)

I don't really understand why you think the latter is necessary to achieve the former.

There are various levels of "policing", ranging from gentle suggestions (this post), occasional nudging, public shaming, coerced speech through some technical tweak on the EA forum, public flogging, or locking someone away and throwing away the key.

I think the lower levels are fine. The forum already has rules, some of them could refer to epistemics. "Be kind, stay on topic, be honest, offer an operationalization and stakes if you are offering a bet"

Note also that the forum already has a section on Softer discussion norms and tips.

Sure, I'm not objecting to policing language in general (there are certainly types of language that are inappropriate) or you making a specific suggestion of (gentle) language policying. (I just disagree with your specific suggestion on this - and I assume others do as well - and my point is that connecting it with you other suggestion - that I think more people will agree with - is suboptimal.)

At the risk of repeating myself, I think that there is an important point here where most potential bet offers are going to be people ambiguously using the word "I'd bet" in a somewhat metaphorical world. And in that state of the world, I'm not going to go around trying to accept other people's potential bet offers, because most of the time people will chicken out. This makes the signal of using "I'd bet" much weaker, meaning that there aren't any downsides to using it metaphorically, which leads to a downward spiral where it loses the signal.

The alternative would be to have an unambiguous way of saying that you are willing to put money behind your belief. Having a norm of using "I'd bet" non-metaphorically would be one such way, but I'm open to others.

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