As an afterthought at the end of my previous post on dominant assurance contracts, I decided on a whim as I was typing to append a small dominant assurance contract:

In theory, writers could kickstart posts using dominant assurance contracts. An example (this is a real offer): If you send $20 to arjun.panickssery at Gmail via PayPal by noon New York time on January 21st, I'll send you back $25 if fewer than 10 people sent me money. If 10 or more people send me money, I'll post a review of Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by the end of the month. I'm not sure whether I'm just giving away free money right now.

I received exactly nine out of the ten funders needed and lost $45.

Now a second attempt, this time in the real world: at Andromeda House we plan to host large weekly dinners on Monday evenings for the local EA/rationality/etc community at our house in Southside Berkeley.

Here’s how it works:

  • You can Venmo me (@Arjun-Panickssery if the link doesn't work) or PayPal me any amount of at least $20 with the subject line "dinner" or similar.
  • If I get at least $700 total by noon Pacific time on July 15, I'll host dinners from July 17 till the end of August (seven dinners).
  • If I get less than $700 total, I'll give you a 25% return (e.g., if you sent me $100, I'll send you back $125).

Example: If you live in town and this service would be worth more than $20 per dinner to you and you'd expect to come to three before September, you should pay at least $60, since you either get a service worth more than that amount or you make a 25% return. You could try to free-ride but the fact that my previous contract received just one less than the target number suggests that I'm well-calibrated.

If you don't live in town—or even if you do—you can also idly speculate if you think that I'm unlikely to hit my target and likely to pay out.

You could also just pseudo-donate money without regard to whether you think I'm calibrated just because you think that DACs are cool and should proliferate.

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9 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 10:55 PM

Surely running a dollar auction with decision-theory nerds won't result in hurt feelings.

I think the Game Theory thing to do here is to send you $600 ASAP and post evidence of that everywhere I can, but the fact that I came up with a plan to give a random stranger on the internet $600 probably means I am in a scam and therefore I refuse.

That assumes no one values the dinners happening, no? But since they do, there are probably $100+ in additional contributions and you lose your $600.

I doubt it matters at this scale, but I think it's pretty likely that the thing where you're saying you'll send the money back with interest if you don't hit the goal is not legal.

I liked your first post and I like this second one. I hope your events succeed

Just to clarify:

  • Is anyone invited to the weekly dinners (thus you are providing a public good)?
  • Or, are the dinners limited to the contributors (thus it is a club good)?

From reading pu1377.dvi (, I believe that dominant assurance contracts work better for club goods 

At least in the sense of "you receiving as much money as possible" or "the contract being more likely to succeed", but obviously you may put value on welcoming everyone, and, in general, those two alternative dinners won't be the same.

It'll be a public good

How can I know how much I value this without knowing how much I'll like the food?

I created a

[+][comment deleted]7mo10