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Why Didn’t Nate Silver Offer Odds?


Eliana — no wonder Scarborough didn’t take the bet.

As I understand it, Silver thinks Obama has an 80 percent chance of winning, and Scarborough thinks the race is a toss-up. In this situation, one would normally place the odds between the two predictions — 65 percent, or about two-to-one. For example, the bet could have been that if Obama wins, Scarborough has to donate $1,000, but if Romney wins, Silver has to donate $2,000. In this case both sides would think they were getting a good deal — Silver would be betting Obama at two-to-one when he thinks the odds are four-to-one, and Scarborough would be betting Romney at one-to-two when he thinks the odds are even. 

Of course, the situation changes a bit when the money is going to charity rather than the winner, but I tend to think the odds still should have been reflected. To Scarborough, Silver’s proposed bet is equivalent to tossing a coin to see who donates. He wouldn’t have been putting his money where his mouth is; he would have been gambling just to gamble.


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