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I'm not sure the recursive argument even fully works for the stock market, these days--I suspect it's more like a sticky tradition that crudely mimic the incentive structure that used to exist, like a parasitic vine that still holds the shape of the rotted-away tree it killed. When there's any noise, recursion amplifies it with each iteration: a 1-year lookahead to a 1-year lookahead might be almost the same as a 2-year-lookahead, but it's slightly skewed by wanting to take into account short-scale price movements and different risk and time discounting. By the the time you get to a 1-year lookahead to a 1-year lookahead to a...*10, it's almost completely (maybe completely) decoupled from the actual 10-year lookahead, with no way to make money off of that decoupling.

Sure, but it's really hard to anticipate which side will benefit more, so in expected value they're equal. I'm sure some people will think their side will be more effective in how it spends money...I'll try to persuade them to take the outside view.

I think those contributors will probably not be our main demographic, since they have an interest in the system as it is and don't want to risk disrupting it. In theory, though, donating to both parties can be modeled as a costly signal (the implied threat is that if you displease me, the next election I'll only donate to your opponent), and there's no reason you can't do that through our site.

It seems to be implicit in your model that funding for political parties is a negative-sum arms race.

What army1987 said. The specific assumption is that on the margin, the effect of more funding to both sides is either very small or negative.

In my own view, the most damaging negative-sum arms race is academia.

This is definitely an extendable idea. It gets a lot more complicated when there are >2 sides, unfortunately. Even if they agreed it was negative-sum, someone donating $100 to Columbia University would generally not be equally happy to take $100 away from Harvard. I don't know how to fix that.

I'm happy to specify completely, actually, I just figured a general question would lead to answers that are more useful to the community.

In my case, I'm helping to set up an organization to divert money away from major party U.S. campaign funds and to efficient charities. The idea is that if I donate $100 to the Democratic Party, and you donate $200 to the Republican party (or to their nominees for President, say), the net marginal effect on the election is very similar to if you'd donated $100 and I've donated nothing; $100 from each of us is being canceled out. So we're going to make a site where people can donate to either of two opposing causes, we'll hold it in escrow for a little, and then at a preset time the money that would be canceling out goes to a GiveWell charity instead. So if we get $5000 in donations for the Democrats and $2000 for Republicans, the Democrats get $3000 and the neutral charity gets $4000. From an individual donor's point of view, each dollar you donate will either become a dollar for your side, or take away a dollar from the opposing side.

This obviously steps into a lot of election law, so that's probably the expertise I'll be looking for. We also need to figure out what type of organization(s) we need to be: it seems ideal to incorporate as a 501c(3) just so that people can make tax-deductible donations to us (whether donations made through us that end up going to charity can be tax-deductible is another issue). I think the spirit of the regulations should permit that, but I am not a lawyer and I've heard conflicting opinions on whether the letter of the law does.

And those issues aside, I feel like there could be more legal gotchas that I'm not anticipating to do with Handling Other People's Money.

What's the best way to get (U.S.) legal advice on a weird, novel issue (one that would require research and cleverness to address well)? Paid or unpaid, in person or remotely.

(For that matter, if anyone happens to be interested in donating good legal advice to a weird, novel non-profit organization, feel free to contact me at histocrat at gmail dot com).

Arthur Prior's resolution it to claim that each statement implicitly asserts its own truth, so that "this statement is false" becomes "this statement is false and this statement is true".

Pace your later comments, this is a wonderfully pithy solution and I look forward to pulling it out at cocktail parties.

I like people's attempts to step outside the question, but playing along...

LW-rationalists value thinking for yourself over conformity. A LW sport might be a non-team sport like fencing, a team sport in which individuals are spotlighted, like baseball, or a sport that presents constant temptation to follow cues from your teammates but rewards breaking away from the pack.

LW-rationalists value cross-domain skills. A LW sport might involve a variety of activities, like an n-athlon, or facing a quick succession of opponents who all trained together so that lessons learned against one are likely to apply to the next.

LW-rationalists value finding ways to cooperate with people whose values are different. A LW sport might involve a tension between behavior that supports the team and behavior that wins personal glory, like basketball, or it might involve more than 2 sides and more than 1 winner with potential for cooperation.

LW-rationalists value an ability to recognize when a previously useful heuristic isn't working, and break out of it. A LW sport might involve subtle shifts in the playing field that weaken some strategies and strengthen others.

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