If I post a rant defending SBF, will I regret it?
resolved Jan 21
Resolved as

Key points of maybe rant
1. This was bad judgment not ill intent. Denouncing fraud is unhelpful
2. Loyalty and forgiveness are virtues; fast denunciations are distasteful/cowardly
3. Ambition is still good, and failed bets are worth celebrating
4. If you preemptively police yourself in fear of PR, PR has won

Update: Rant is out at https://manifold.markets/post/in-defense-of-sbf

I plan on resolving this on Jan 15, 2023, based on how I currently feel at the time.

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10% feels like the intuitive amount that I regret this post.

Thought process: I'm weighing "regret" as having two components:

  1. ~40% "Was posting this a good idea given what I knew at the time?"

  2. ~60% "Do I still endorse the beliefs I posted at the time?"

For 1, I do think that I'm completely happy to have made my thoughts public.

For 2, I'd break my post down into 3 parts of 20% each; on fraud, on loyalty, and on ambition. I've moved towards the direction that SBF's actions were fraudulent, but only about halfway. I still stand by the loyalty and ambition parts of the post. Thus, the 50% of 20% on fraud leads me to a total of 10% regret.

Note that some times in Dec and Jan I was as high as 30-40% regret, but SBF's latest Substack postings have moved me back. It's possible I'll once again come to regret my post more in the future!

Curious if people have strong takes about this as a resolution criteria; I'll give it about another day before I hit "Resolve".

predicted NO

@Austin I was under the impression you were going to resolve to YES or NO, since you didn't specify in advance that it was a PROB resolution. I think resolving to "percentage regret" is reasonable in general for markets like this, but the normal assumption is that markets are YES/NO unless otherwise stated.

Regarding 2, should that be considered a component of regret? If I write an article explaining my beliefs, this article spurs discussion and my beliefs change as a result, I wouldn't say that I regretted that article, even though I now know that the information contained therein is wrong.

@IsaacKing Thanks for the thoughts! I'm open to this interpretation as well; furthermore, it's not clear if I should resolve NO because 10% is closer to 0%; or YES because I experienced a nontrivial amount of regret. Still leaning towards resolving to 10% given that this market is explicitly "based on how I currently feel at the time."

2: I think I'd regret making an error, given that other people did not make the corresponding error. Of course, the title is "If I post a rant, will I regret it"? And it's plausibly confusing whether the regret applies more to the action of posting, or the contents of the rant itself. (It was confusing in my own mind as well. Perhaps next time, I might try specifying the resolution criteria more specifically, or making two markets)

predicted NO

@Austin I think "will I regret something?" means something like "do I think I shouldn't have done it, given the information I had at the time?". If you regret it by 10%, then presumably you still think it was overall a positive thing to do, and if given the choice to make the post or not make the post, you'd still make the post.

Using "there is absolutely no part of [action] I would do differently" as your criterion for not regretting [action] seems like an impossible bar to meet; wouldn't you regret almost all actions by that metric? There's always some small detail you could have done better.

@IsaacKing Interesting, I'm not sure if "regret" to me completely hinges on "given the info I had at the time". Say I came to believe that my friend stole my wallet, and we argued and parted ways; then in a year I found out he had been innocent. I feel like I would regret my actions?

I think regret is most closely tied to "if I could send a message to myself in the past, would I tell him to do or not do the thing?" (which is pretty close to your framing).

predicted NO

@Austin I agree some people use it that way (e.g. "I regret not buying stock in [company] when it was cheaper"), but I don't think that's a useful concept, since it's just pure hindsight bias. If I'm asked to wager on whether a die comes up 6, I bet no, and it comes up 6, should I regret my choice, given the knowledge I have now? I don't think so; I think I made the correct decision at the time.

I think in your wallet example, I think it hinges on whether you made a reasoning error at the time. If someone offers me the die bet, I do math poorly and conclude that I should bet on 6, and then it comes up 3, I'd regret that, since my decision was not correct given the knowledge I had at the time; I made a mistake. You might regret jumping to false conclusions over the wallet without much supporting evidence, or regret getting angry at your friend when you should have been more polite, but if your friend was legitimately the most likely culprit at the time, then I don't see why you should regret following the evidence to its logical conclusion.

There is certainly some value in examining past decisions based on low information and seeing if we could have drawn better conclusions. Maybe a really intelligent person could have figured out in 2012 that bitcoin was going to be worth money, in which case it was a reasoning error to not buy in, and you'd regret it. But "did I have enough information to figure it out at the time?" is a different question from "what would I have done if I had magically known the future?".

predicted NO

Will I regret my bets on this market?

Don't keep us in suspense @Austin!

predicted NO

FWIW, I appreciated your post, and I think it may have helped the community become more comfortable putting forward potential defenses of SBF's actions. (Though I haven't been following the discourse closely enough to be confident of that.)

predicted NO


In Daniel Pink's new book, find out how regret, our most misunderstood emotion, can be the pathway to our best life.

bought Ṁ100 of NO

(still think you should)

predicted YES

I don’t know if you’re likely to regret it - I don’t know you personally, most people stick with their positions once they’ve made them public. However, I think it was ill-conceived.

You criticise people for leaping to the conclusion of fraud, but it looks increasing like they were right and you were wrong. Maybe they just got lucky, but I think any such case calls for reflection.

Your evidence against fraud is that Sam doesn’t have a track record of lying, but I think this is just wrong, like you’ve somehow decided this without actually checking. San has made few verifiable claims with regard to the FTX crash, but among the verifiable claims we have:

  • TOS strongly suggests FTX does not loan customer funds (false)

  • Sam tweeted FTX does not invest customer funds (false)

  • Sam claimed FTX + alameda has more assets mark to market than liabilities (false, and he rowed back with “maybe you disagree” after the balance sheet leaked)

As far as I can tell, your rant came out after November 12 when the balance sheet was published, so all of the above was knowable when you published. If you contest my interpretation, bear in mind that when asked if he had lied, Sam basically said “yes”. Even if you hold these are not “technically lies”, Sam’s other statements are perfectly consistent with fraud if we apply the standard “assuming fraud, could a pedant argue that these aren’t technically false?”

You claim “fraud should be condemned, mistakes shouldn’t”, but this is silly. If I spend 5 minutes researching a bet, decide it looks good enough and lose all of my money on it, my wife’s anger would be absolutely justified. Recklessness is worthy of condemnation too. You can fail to take enough risk, but rounding this off to “risk = good” is dumb. Sam’s management of FTX was clearly egregiously reckless, and this is another point in which he publicly claimed otherwise (“what do we do better? Manage risk”)

You then go on to consider whether EAs should sometimes endorse fraud because it might work out well in the end*. An interesting question, and I sympathise with the idea that some key EA figures seem to be suspiciously strongly against it. I personally think it’s reasonable to defer to crude intuitions when your theory seems to prescribe the wrong things, so I’m not too upset with EA leaders here, but I can see how someone might be. Still, the answer can’t be that fraud is always ok because it signifies ambition. I think your analysis here is too shallow to take seriously, and as a result I think your second section is again at substantial risk of criticising the crowd for being right, a risk that was avoidable by thinking about the issue more clearly.

*I don’t think your argument applies to recklessness. “Suppose counterfactually that FTX survives and returns to apparent prosperity but it transpires that no one at all knows what they’re their financial position is. Do you still condemn them and distance yourself from key players?” Obviously yes, I’d say

@DavidJohnston I appreciate the thoughtful comments! Very briefly:

  • I'm using "lying" here to mean "deliberately deceiving", not just "telling untruths". The difference here is that eg Sam might not be lying if he genuinely believed that FTX did not invest customer funds, regardless of what was actually going on.

  • I don't think I claim that mistakes should be free from condemnation? Premised on this having been a mistake, it's very correct to denounce bad risk management practices and try to prevent lots of people from losing their money. Instead I'm saying -- it's important to distinguish between a mistake and a fraud, because the actor and the community response to these should be different.

  • Whether fraud that works is a good idea is something I'm actually quite unsure of; in my original post I put

    Crucially: think that it is correct to consistently support him in our world and World 2

    And I think that came out stronger than I intended. Intuitively, I'm more confident that:

    1. In World 2 (hypothetical fraud works out) supporting him would make sense

    2. Our actions in world 1 and world 2 should be consistent

    Then that

    1. We should support him in world 1 (hypothetical fraud failed)

    But I'm not exactly sure how to consolidate these

u will regret thiz decision but not 4 the reason u think

predicted NO

@Spindle 👀

predicted NO


Non, je ne regrette rien.

bought Ṁ100 of YES

I think the case for regretting this is that it's very clear at this point that there was a lot of deliberate fraud. The "honest mistake / bad judgement" framing seems very wrongheaded here.

predicted NO

@PeterWildeford I diagree, I don't think that's reason to regret making the post. Just because it's clear now that there was deliberate fraud doesn't mean it was wrong to make the post at the time! One should not in general regret making predictions based on available data when it turns out later data changes things. And I still stand by my post that people claiming it was certain fraud early on were jumping to conclusions too fast (see https://manifold.markets/jack/will-we-believe-sbf-committed-willf).

predicted NO

Note, even now the market is only at 90%. That is far from "beyond a reasonable doubt" and it really hasn't shifted up that much even with the guilty pleas and other information coming out.

bought Ṁ10 of NO

@jack I agree with you in general, but it's probably only at ~90% partly because it's about a poll, and even if you think it is beyond reasonable doubt, harder to say what fraction of unknown poll participants are reasonable and in possession of your info

predicted NO

writing things is great, publishing is sublime, why would one regret this

@Lily When it is drivel, maybe a little regret is had.

bought Ṁ100 of NO

@kazoo I guess I'm hoping the resolution criteria is more like "will I regret the decision overall I.e. Would I prefer if I hadn't done it" rather than "will I have any regrets about any part of it"

sold Ṁ361 of YES

I still think yes is deserved and I hope austin realizes this; however, if that were the case, I'd think he would already have resolved for yes. I sold out below my true probability that it will become even more embarrassing, but austin I can't as easily predict.

predicted YES

@L Market description says "I plan on resolving this on Jan 15, 2023, based on how I currently feel at the time.", so I wouldn't expect early resolution even if he currently regrets it.