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“News through prediction markets”

The Base Rate Times is a nascent news site that incorporates prediction markets prominently into its coverage.

Please see current iteration: www.baseratetimes.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/base_rate_times

What problem does it solve?

Forecasts are underutilized by the media

Prediction markets are more accurate than pundits, yet the media has made limited use of their forecasts. This is a big problem: one of the most rigorous information sources is being omitted from public discourse!

The Base Rate Times creates prediction markets content, substituting for inferior news sources. This improves the epistemics of its audience.

Forecasts are dispersed, generally inconvenient to consume

Prediction markets are dispersed among many different platforms, fragmenting the information forecasters provide. For example, different platforms ask similar questions in different ways. Furthermore, platforms’ UX is orientated towards forecasters, not information consumers. Overall, trying to use prediction markets as ‘news replacement’ is cumbersome.

There is value in aggregating and curating forecasts from various platforms. We need engaging ways of sharing prediction markets’ insights. The Base Rate Times aims to make prediction markets easily digestible to the general public.

How does it work?

News media (emotive narrative) vs Base Rate Times (actionable odds)

For example, this is a real headline from a reputable newspaper: “Taiwan braces for China's fury over Pelosi visit”. Emotive and incendiary, it does not help you form an accurate model of the situation.

By contrast, The Base Rate Times: “China-Taiwan conflict risk 14%, up 2x from 7% after Pelosi visit”. That's an actionable insight. It can inform your decision on whether to stay in Taiwan or to flee, for example.

News aggregation, summarizing prediction markets

Naturally, the probabilities in the example above come from prediction markets. The Base Rate Times presents what prediction markets are telling us about news in an engaging way.

Stories that shift market odds are highlighted. And if a seemingly important story doesn’t shift market odds, that also tells you something.

On The Base Rate Times, right now you can see the latest odds on:

  • Putin staying in power
  • Russian territorial gains in Ukraine
  • Escalation risk of NATO involvement
  • and more...

By glancing at a few charts, you can form a more accurate model (in less time) of Russia-Ukraine than reading countless narrative-based news stories.


A key inspiration was Scott Alexander’s Prediction Market FAQ:

I recently had to read many articles on Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, which all repeated that “rumors said” Twitter was about to go down because of his mass firing. Meanwhile, there were several prediction markets on whether this would happen, and they were all around 40%. If some journalist had thought to check the prediction markets and cite them in their article, they could have not only provided more value (a clear percent chance instead of just “there are some rumors saying this”), but also been right when everyone else was wrong.

Also Scott’s 'Mantic Monday' posts and Zvi’s blog.

This simple chart by @ClayGraubard was another inspiration. Wanted something like this, but for all major news stories. Couldn't find it, so making it myself. (Clay is making geopolitics videos and podcasts now, check it out.)


Like 538, but for prediction markets

The Base Rate Times is a bet that forecasts can be popularized, as opinion polls have been, and improve society’s models of the world.

Goal: Longshot probability of going mainstream, e.g. like 538.

If highly successful in scaling, we’d be effectively running an experiment on whether prediction can markets serve as early warning systems. For example, if there was a major newspaper consistently reporting a 1 in 3 risk of a global pandemic before COVID-19, would it have made a difference?


Next topic the site will cover is Artificial Intelligence

Launched with coverage of Russia-Ukraine and Nuclear War (with a small sideline on US debt). The plan is to expand into a new ‘vertical’ every month, the topic being decided via Twitter polls (I am a man of the people). Coverage of AI will be launched in June.

AI-generated ‘enhanced’ article summaries

Currently news links are summarized by AI into 3-4 bullet points. Testing ways of enhancing these summaries, can AI…:

  • find historical data to contextualize the story?
  • advise forecast updates based on the story?
  • make counter-arguments?
  • translate articles from e.g. Chinese?
  • detect bias & cross-reference claims?

LessWrong-style reacts

As soon as I saw that ‘Key Insight’ react, I knew I had to steal it! Using LessWrong as an inspiration, the plan is to come up with ~5 reacts that are directly relevant to The Base Rate Times.

Community Notes-style overlay

Eventually I would like a ‘Community Notes’-style overlay on top of all of The Base Rate Times. For example, there might be a more liquid or better suited prediction market that I’ve missed. Or I might’ve grouped together markets in a way that requires more context. Readers could also correct AI-summaries and any headlines I might write.

Driving traffic to prediction platforms

Right now it’s not that convenient to go from The Base Rate Times to one of the referenced prediction markets. Plan is ‘instant check-out’ for placing a trade and easier clickthrough to the platforms.

Tagging tweets with prediction markets

Ever read a tweet (perhaps with a news link) and thought, ‘I bet that just isn’t true?’. Idea is to match dodgy viral tweets to relevant prediction markets.

Community Notes are well suited to adding missing info or making factual corrections. But prediction markets are better at fighting vague verbiage and contextualizing stories with concrete odds.

Helping top forecasters monetize their skillset

Prediction market traders are making a contribution to the public good by helping create accurate odds for current events. Unlike financial market traders, they are not richly compensated for ‘price discovery’ as many of the top platforms are ‘play money’. I have some ideas on how to get e.g. top Metaculus users paid, more on this later…


Still in the MVP stage

This is an MVP -- I welcome any and every bit of feedback, big or small. Please feel free to be critical.

What's one thing you would change about the website? 

Some specific areas you might like to comment on:

  • general website layout (should I change to 2 columns?)
  • quality of headlines
  • chart design (should I replace data labels with a Y-axis?)
  • link selection and presentation
  • quality of the AI-generated article summaries

Grant suggestions please!

I would also appreciate any suggestions on grants (or other funding) to apply for.

Thank you for reading! If you made it this far, then damn u is gangsta af.

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

I think this is great!

https://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/far-future might be a viable option to get funding.

As for suggestions,

  • maybe link to the markets/forecasting pools you use for the charts like this "… ([Platform] (link-to-the-question))?
  • I haven't tested, but it would be great for links to your charts to have snappy social media previews.

Thanks Misha! I've applied for the Long-Term Future Fund now🤞

Appreciate your suggestions:

  • Good idea on the social media previews! I couldn't figure how to do this in a dynamic way quickly, but I've added it to my to do list
  • Right now forecast links look like the screengrab below. Just to be clear, you're saying maybe instead it should look like eg: [Metaculus] Will Russia capture or surround a large Ukrainian city before June 1, 2023?

Ah, I didn't notice the forecasting links section... I was thinking of adding a hyperlink to the question to the name of the platform at the highlighted place.

Also, maybe expanding into the full question when you hover over the chart? 


(written on my phone, apologies for the poor formatting and lack of hyperlinks!)

this is AWESOME! so glad i’m seeing this become a reality :D

i think one of the central things you might work on is developing out rationales. a number only gets ppl so far — understanding WHY the market is at a certain percentage is also super helpful. this seems like one of the central aspects of what makes forecasting useful. it also seems like a great way to monetize forecasting as a skill, which you mentioned is one of your goals.

[edit: to clarify, i’m proposing that you could hire forecasters to write reports/rationales on specific topics. forecasters get paid for their skills, you get longer-form content, consumers get actionable, context-laden info > a single number. in terms of figuring out where the money’s coming from…]

some ideas for funding:

  • seems like you’re giving the prediction market companies free advertising??? maybe ask them to pay or smth…
  • LTFF
  • ads (i don’t recommend)
  • paid subscription option, maybe/especially to get the rationales or something
  • sponsorships — might function similar to ads, except partnering with specific companies who’re interested in capturing the attention of ppl who read BRT. for example, quant finance. dm me if you want more help/info on this one.
  • ask for donations from readers
  • uhh idk i ran out of ideas ngl

again, i think this is really really cool and i’m in full support! :)

Thank you!

Agree re: context behind numbers. Great idea on hiring forecasters for rationale reports - I would love to see what base rates a top forecaster used to arrive a prediction, for example.

Generally, I think there needs to be more forecasting content, and not just in text format.

(Also I'm highlighting when a news story precedes a change in the numbers, e.g. "🚨 odds of Chinese involvement 2x after position paper!")


  • Good ideas re sponsorship with eg quants, or partnership with prediction markets. I think a few months of good traffic will unlock opportunities
  • I will launch a Patreon along with the AI dashboard later this month

Appreciate your support~

Thanks, you rule! 

Cool stuff. Do you only leverage prediction markets, or do you also leverage prediction polls (e.g. Metaculus)? My sense of the research so far is that they tend to be similarly accurate with similar numbers of predictors, with perhaps a slight edge for prediction polls.

Thank you. Yes, I include Metaculus, GJ Open, etc. Also any forecasts made by top groups like Samotsvety, the Swift Centre, publicly available Superforecasts, etc.

This is so cool!

This is awesome, straight in the bookmarks ❤️

Why only focus on certain topics? Why not pick some interesting markets every week (or whatever) regardless of topic?

(I love the news you do have!)

This seems really cool. I was really excited just by reading the title of this forum piece. My initial reaction was something like, 'Yeah, I would be willing to sign up immediately and pay a subscription fee to access that if it was an app on my phone.' I could use it like a news app, that way I could read it during breakfast or whenever else I have a spare moment. It could be a replacement or supplement to the BBC News app I read currently.

I took a very quick look at the site on my phone, so these are just quick initial reactions. So take my comments with a pinch of salt, but I think this is probably comparable to how most people would engage with this site if they're not dedicated forecasters or identify as effective altruists or rationalists, or something similar.

My main point is similar to another commenter on this forum post, that I'd love to be able to click on individual stories and read more about them. Even if the headline is the main takeaway, it feels like it doesn't really sink in until you've read some surrounding words, thoughts, comments, analysis, etc. Another forum commenter suggested that you could get forecasters to write explanations, but that sounds a bit technical and dry. My suggestion would be something like an interesting journalistic piece that uses the forecast as the main hook and story. For instance, you could interview some superforecasters and get quotes from them to try to clarify the topic. But you should also have some surrounding discussion and analysis about the context and the story itself.

Another gut reaction was like, 'Oh, okay, so they have stories on a couple of specific topics, but not other stuff.' I think I was expecting to see stories on a wide variety of topics, gathered from different prediction markets and forecasting platforms. Some of these stories might be on random or frankly unimportant topics. My guess is that this would make for a much more engaging and interesting site. My guess is also that creating a truly engaging platform is more important to your mission or theory of change than focusing solely on important topics. By attracting more traffic, you'll get more people engaging with prediction markets and forecasts, and then maybe they'll start reading about the other topics too.

To reiterate, this seems like a really cool project. Let me know if you'd be interested in having guest writers. I'd be interested in trying to write one myself, and I imagine that a bunch of smart students would love to get some experience like that too. I could probably connect you with some. But I imagine that you could find lots more yourself pretty easily.

(I also realise that my suggestions/ impressions might be time consuming to implement and you're just in MVP phase, but thought they were worth sharing anyway.)

Would it be possible to have dates on the different prediction changes? Just so if I am visiting I can quickly see what is new and not need to check the stuff I read yesterday. I love this site!

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while!

Just one thought (and sorry if this has already been suggested elsewhere) is that it'd be useful to have a short explanation on the site regarding the markets you're using, and who they're populated by.

Honestly though, this is really gr8 and I can see it having a huge amount of potential.

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