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Will a question of unknown nature resolve positive?


Disclaimer: This question is a bit experimental, but might be quite interesting.

One of the most interesting things you notice when predicting on Metaculus is that any arbitrary event a priori is less likely to happen than not and less likely to happen than most people think (this is why the Metaculus prediction tends to calibrate down). An event is defined here as something you would ask to happen, rather than not happen, for a positive resolution to a question.

It would be interesting to determine a general value for the a priori probability of an event happening as defined above. This value could allow us to estimate the probability of events for which there is little evidence for or against. For example, the probability that God exists has been estimated to be 67%, yet the problem is that the a priori was taken to be 50%. There is no reason to assume this.

The only way to determine an a priori probability for a question resolving positive would be to remove anything question specific from the question: to not tell people what the question is. This is what we are going to do. A question has been set for the resolution of this question, but it is known only to me and the Metaculus admin. Obviously, those who know the question should not predict on this question.

It is asked:

Will this question, with its secret resolution criteria, resolve positive?

To wet your appetite I'm going to outline a few possible considerations one might take when answering this question. Of course, there are many others.

One could sample from the Metaculus track record. 55/208=26.4% of questions resolved positive (at least according to my counting).

Yet, Metaculus also has a technology heavy question stack and there is a separate effect to the general overestimation of probabilities, which is the general overestimation of technological progress in our time, that might be influencing this figure. Note that no category has been selected for this question, as it is not given in which category it is. It may, or may not, have anything to do with technology. It might even be in a completely new category.

Also, only short-term questions have resolved. What would be the a priori for more long-term questions? I could have picked a question we already know the answer to, which would have been a very long-term question long ago, for resolution. Or I could not have. You just don't know.

Also, this question will resolve in 2018 and in 2018 (up to now) we have had even more negative resolutions than usual.

Metaculus Itself

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Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

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Current points depend on your prediction, the community's prediction, and the result. Your total earned points are averaged over the lifetime of the question, so predict early to get as many points as possible! See the FAQ.

Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

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