The site seems to be promising to later evaluate a rather large number of widely ranging predictions. If it manages to actually keep this commitment, it will make an important contribution. The five year limit on prediction horizons is unfortunate, but of course site authors have every right to limit their effort commitment. I do suggest that they post the date that each prediction was submitted, along with the date it was made, to help observers correct for selection effects.
I'll admit lots of childhood experiences influenced my tastes and values, and that I don't have good reasons to expect those to be especially good tastes and values. So I will let them change to the extent I can.
There is a vast space of possible things that can go wrong, so each plan will have to cover a pretty wide range of scenarios. Even to include a scenario as one with a plan will signal to viewers that you consider it more likely and/or important.
Eliezer, in most signaling theories that economists construct the observers of signals are roughly making reasonable inferences from the signals they observe. If someone proposed to us that people take feature F as signaling C, but in fact there is no relation between F and C, we would want some explanation for this incredible mistake, or at least strong evidence that such a mistake was being consistently made.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "mere" signaling. If visible feature F did not correlate with hard to observe character C, then F could not signal C. Of course the correlation isn't perfect, but why doesn't it make sense to choose F if you want people to believe you have C? Are you saying you didn't really care what people thought of your maturity?
It is functional for leaders to be more reluctant than most to "take sides" in common disputes. Our leaders do this, and so one can in fact signal high status by being "above" common disputes. Our leaders are in fact wiser than the average person, and in addition we want to say they are even wiser, so it makes sense to call people who signal high status as "wise." Furthermore, on average across human disputes with near equal support on the two sides the middle position is in fact the more correct position. So in this sense it does in fact signal wisdom to take a middle position.
Sure if you set the idealistic-enough cut high enough then of course then only a small fraction will make the cut. But if we consider the median non-fiction library book, don't you agree it is more idealistic than cynical?
The cynic's conundrum is that while a cynic might prefer that others believe an idealistic theory of his cynical mood, his own cynical beliefs should lead him to believe a cynical theory of his cynical mood. That is, cynics should think that rude complainers tend to be losers, rather than altruists.
It bothers me that some folks complaint about the story seems to be that it is too realistic, that it too clearly shows the actual sorts of betrayal that exist in the world. Yes, perhaps they misunderstood the intent of the story, but I must take my stand with telling the truth, as opposed to "teaching" morals via telling misleading stories, where betrayal is punished more consistently than it is in reality.
Rather than trust any one economist, whatever her gender or heritage, I'd rather trust a betting market estimating future African GDP conditional on various aid levels.