Long Bets

Gambling mecca Las Vegas is a popular setting for US TV series this year. In the original CSI, Dr. Vegas, or Las Vegas (the show and the city), most bets pay off within hours at the most. Not so with the prominent people taking part in the innovative Long Bets Foundation where actor Ted Danson wagered $1,000 that the US men’s soccer team would win the World Cup before the Red Sox won the World Series (which they did yesterday). So Danson wins a thou from Mike Elliot, editor at large at Time. Danson pledged his winnings to The American Oceans Campaign. Of the 98 people who voted on this bet, 57% were on Danson’s side. Poor Elliot, arguing for his side, said, “The Curse of the Bambino … is one of those mystical truths that are beyond the reach of human intervention.”

Long Bets isn’t all fun and games. You can view it for free, but participation in predicting and challenging costs. The goal is to “improve long-term thinking” and it “provides a forum for discussion about what may be learned from the bets and their eventual outcomes.” The minimum time period for a bet is two years, and a minimum bet is $200. It costs $50 just to make a prediction. The winnings always go to a charity. The people who play must use their real names, although personal information is protected. The list of players is impressive and includes Martin Rees, Mitch Kapor, Ray Kurzweil, Dave Winer, Eric Schmidt, Esther Dyson, Vint Cerf, Freeman Dyson, Stewart Brand, and Brian Eno. Some of the bets are so long, they are open-ended. Especially interesting is Brendan McAuliffe’s reasoning behind predicting that “You are immortal” (#163).

Send your predictions and bets to Georganna at Writer’s Edge.

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