challenge someone to put up or shut up.

That is exactly right. Challenging someone to put up or shut up is a confrontation and an escalation. That is how fistfights begin. The challenge is construed as being to their honor.

A well-written analysis of the dynamic is given by a lawyer, William Ian Miller, in Humiliation. Among the other interesting tales he tells is how a medieval Icelandic noble family feud began with a too extravagant gift.

Challenging someone to put up or shut up is a confrontation and an escalation. That is how fistfights begin. The challenge is construed as being to their honor.

Does the fact that it's an escalation mean it's bad? Some bad things (fistfights) are escalations, but that doesn't magically make escalation bad.

Instead of analogies to other bad things, we should analyze what makes things bad.

A norm of responding to challenges to honor by (threats of) violence would mostly result in social status depending on capacity to inflict "acceptable" forms of ... (read more)

Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet

by MileyCyrus 1 min read12th Dec 201126 comments

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For those who don't follow politics, Mitt Romney offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 that Perry had misquoted Romney. (video)

Most political commenters see the move as a gaffe. They claim the bet made Romney look out of touch, because it reminded voters that Romney is rich enough to afford $10,000.

As a believer in prediction markets, I am disappointed in the public's reaction. Romney made a bold move by making his beliefs pay rent. Critics point out that $10,000 is "chump change" for Romney, but Romney still but himself at risk. If he had lost the bet, Perry could have made a production about cashing a $10,000 check from a disgraced Romney. Besides, if money were the issue, Perry could have countered with a non-monetary bet.  "Loser has to attend the next debate in a clown suit" or something.

If politicians had to face real consequences every time they made a false statement, they would have a larger incentive to tell the truth. It's a shame Romney's bet probably won't catch on.

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This post is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney or his politics. All I am endorsing is political betting.