Did the Boeing whistleblower die of foul play? (media consensus)
Jun 12

John Barnett former Boeing employee and current whistle blower was found dead in his truck on 03/11/2024. He was 62 at time of death, in Charleston to participate in legal proceedings linked to his whistleblowing case.

This resolves YES if consensus among mainstream media in 3 months is that he died of foul play. Resolves NO consensus is that he died from suicide, natural causes, or an accident.

If at market close this is unresolved I'll extend the market.


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opened a Ṁ4,000 NO at 2% order

John sounds like he was a good guy.

Investigators also detailed the contents of a notebook with Barnett's fingerprints found next to him in the car passenger seat which, according to the police, contained "what amounts to a suicide note."  A copy of the note was released, in which Barnett told his family and friends he loved them, and wrote "I can't do this any longer" and "I pray Boeing pays."

Over that time, he developed concerns about the way the company was operating. Before resigning, he filed an administrative complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency said it had no reasonable cause to believe Boeing violated whistleblower laws. He then filed a lawsuit in 2021, alleging a litany of safety concerns. Among them: stray titanium shavings falling into electrical wiring, defective oxygen tanks, and managers urging him to cut corners.

We should probably be making markets about what consequences Boeing will have for violating safety regulations, if any.


I think if the police investigation is not closed by June 11 I'll have to extend this market.

Please convince me I am wrong.

@GCS I think it's fine to extend the market considering you specified that in the description!

@GCS Yeah extending until after the police investigation ends and the media has time to report on it seems very reasonable

bought Ṁ80 NO

I looked at all the prominent whistleblowers in the last ~50 years, and while some people have been seriously harassed and felt their lives were in danger, there's only a single case where someone was plausibly murdered by a private company. (Governments murder whistleblowers all the time.)


filled aṀ100 YES at 17% order

@etirabys Let me know if you have any ideas for other versions of this market with different resolution criteria that you'd want to bet on!

I think it's very very unlikely that there is media consensus that there was foul play.

@etirabys I'd be willing to bet at least 500k mana / 500 usd at 17% on the media consensus in 3 months not being foul play, and similar on similar markets

Whistleblower Josh Dean of Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems has died

submitted for your betting pleasure: another sudden whistleblower death

Surely America's most trusted news source counts as part of the media


opened a Ṁ500 NO at 15% order

Should the title of this market be changed to something like “Will mainstream media agree that the Boeing whistleblower died of foul play?” It seems to me that the question of whether he was killed is very different from whether media will have consensus on that in three months.

To be clear, I’d give a 2% chance of the mainstream media reaching a consensus of it being foul play, but a 25% chance of it actually being foul play.


I'm not opposed to changing the title, but how else could I resolve this?

@Gabrielle if you have a proposal for different resolution criteria for a new market I'd be curious to hear them.

@Joshua I don't have a good alternate proposal; it's a hard thing to make a market against! A MSM consensus like this is probably the best proxy we can get, but it's just still not a good proxy.

The JFK assassination is the most obvious comparison for this, and we still don't have an objective answer to that sixty years later.

bought Ṁ1,000 NO

Oh my god how is this market so high. Let's be serious here.

opened a Ṁ1 YES at 5% order

@traders I have limit orders for NO, fill them if you think this actually happened.

Not sure how to bet on this. I'd estimate 75% chance of murder, but much lower chance that mainstream media widely recognizes it as murder. My argument for it being murder is basically on priors:

- if he was gonna commit suicide, he could do it at any point in his life
- if Boeing wants to murder him as a cover-up, they will do it shortly after he comes out with accusations against them

The fact that he died shortly after whistleblowing is a big odds update toward murder

What is the right reference class to be thinking of here for my priors? The base rate of American whistleblowers committing suicide, seems too small of a class, and seems already dubious because of foul play. But the suicide rate of middle-aged Americans seems too broad. Maybe the suicide rate of middle-aged Americans whose careers are being ruined due to legal reasons?

Would be curious to hear thoughts from someone who can think methodically (I don't know how to).

@singer suicide rate of people who say "im not finna suicide" (very high)

@jim What is your evidence for this? Surely it's likely that:

1. people who know they are likely to get murdered say things like "if I die, it wasn't suicide"
2. those people are then murdered in ways that look like suicide
3. you then look at the apparent-suicides and conclude that people who are likely to get murdered often commit suicide

@singer I've tried to find other cases of notable corporate whistleblowers in the US confirmed to have been murdered to cover up what they were saying.

I found exactly one suspected case, which also hasn't been confirmed.

Anyone want to link to a confirmed precedent of this kind of thing?

bought Ṁ20 YES

"If anything happens to me, it's not suicide." -- John Barnett via 'close family friend' "Jennifer" via ABC News 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA44FFi95PA

bought Ṁ30 YES from 18% to 23%
2 traders bought Ṁ20 NO

"Boeing, $BA, whistleblower John Barnett was planning to drive home to Louisiana after his deposition on Friday 3/8 before Boeing lawyers asked him to stay one more day to finish his testimony. His body was found on the morning of 3/9" -- https://unusualwhales.com/news/boeing-ba-whistleblower-john-barnett-was-planning-to-drive-home-to-louisiana-after-his-deposition-on-friday-3-8-before-boeing-lawyers-asked-him-to-stay-one-more-day-to-finish-his-testim

More at https://fortune.com/2024/03/16/boeing-whistleblower-found-dead-john-barnett-737-max/

bought Ṁ20 YES from 10% to 11%

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