FUN: Test Your Science Prescience

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Science  17 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5644, pp. 367c
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5644.367c

How high will sea levels rise by 2030? Will we see a cancer cure before 2010? If you want to learn the conventional wisdom on these questions or add your two cents, click on the Foresight Exchange, an online “futures market” hosted by Lucifer Media Corp. of Canmore, Alberta, Canada. The site lets participants bid on the likelihood of a whole range of possibilities, including science and technology developments.

Although economists consider futures markets a powerful tool for predicting outcomes, ferocious criticism recently prompted the Pentagon to cancel plans for a similar online exchange to anticipate Middle Eastern events, such as terrorist attacks and assassinations (Science, 8 August, p. 749). One reason the Pentagon program drew so much fire was that “players” would earn money for a correct prediction. Foresight Exchange sidesteps that moral morass because prognosticators trade in “FX-bucks,” which buy only bragging rights.

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