Will there be a NYT article about the Lumina Probiotic (from Lantern Bioworks) in 2024?
resolved Apr 21

The Lumina Probiotic is a new product from Lantern Bioworks that claims to reduce cavities. Its commercial success (and potential regulatory future) will be influenced by the sort of news coverage it receives.

This market resolves YES if the New York Times releases an article in 2024 that is "about" the Lumina Probiotic.

For an article to qualify as "about", there needs to be multiple paragraphs discussing the Lumina Probiotic—it doesn't need to be the only topic in the article, but it can't just be an offhand mention. The article needs to be published after question creation (I can't find any past coverage, but just in case I missed any).

If any scenarios for resolution are unclear, please ask.

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Resolution criteria:

For an article to qualify as "about", there needs to be multiple paragraphs discussing the Lumina Probiotic—it doesn't need to be the only topic in the article, but it can't just be an offhand mention.

Relevant paragraphs:

But “Impending Fall” was not prompted by an F.D.A. approval of such a vaccine... It referred to the rollout of a new product called Lumina, conceived by the start-up Lantern Bioworks and sold to customers directly as a probiotic supplement — and an opportunity to participate in something more like a health-care version of a beta-test soft launch.

“Lumina does not have F.D.A. approval, the endorsement of major scientific organizations or any of the other trappings that sound medicine is supposed to have,” acknowledged Richard Hanania... reflecting on his decision to “let some genetically engineered bacteria colonize my mouth.” So why had he done this?

He wasn’t motivated by the science or even the reputation of the company’s scientists. “The real reason I brushed my teeth with Lumina,” he writes, “was Scott Alexander told me to.”

And in December he published a long FAQ-style interview with the founder of Lantern Bioworks, which amounted to a kind of endorsement, though Alexander was typically careful to avoid making claims about Lumina’s efficacy, given that it has not endured conventional clinical trials, and to disclose his conflicts of interests (his friends at the company and the consulting work his wife did for it).

To a lay reader like me, the idea appears promising: a $250 one-time treatment to crowd out the bacteria that are in my mouth now, producing lactic acid anytime I eat sugar, with an engineered variety that will not. ... But it is nevertheless disorienting to find myself, reading about Lumina, in the position to decide, on my own, whether it’s worth it or safe to give a novel bacterium a permanent home in my microbiome. (“Once you use it, it’s in your mouth approximately forever,” Alexander writes.) ...

And more. This clearly satisfies "multiple paragraphs discussing the Lumina Probiotic" (5+ quoted here). Resolves YES.

(It was also the original title of the article, but that isn't required for resolution)

@kenmichaels yup thanks for flagging it, had to get past the paywall. Seems pretty clear cut—there are multiple paragraphs discussing Lumina priobiotic in explicit detail.

@traders LMK if anyone disagrees, but I plan to resolve YES

@Ziddletwix There's potentially some ambiguity here about whether newsletters are articles, but I think a YES resolution makes sense

@JonahWeissman yeah my intent was certainly to include something like this—prominent NYT writer, clearly shown if you click to the general "Opinion" webpage (i.e. not just like hidden in inboxes).

@Ziddletwix it is also available directly on the NYT site through searching for "Lumina". (I subscribe to the NYT.)

@Ziddletwix I mean, I wouldn't consider it about Lumina. It mentions Lumina. But it refers to it in 5 paragraphs, the first simply stating why Hanania wrote an article, the next two being quotes from Hanania that illustrate the broader point the NYT article is making, a paragraph clarifying and elaborating on one of Hanania's quotes, and then a single paragraph where the author reflects on the actual issue, tying back into the overall theme of the NYT article.

If this is what you think counts, I mean, w/e. I have all of 10m in this market. I'm not gonna lose sleep on it. But I would liken it to a use/mention error. It's "mentioning", as it were, Lumina, not "using" it. It doesn't really care about the company, it could swap out any old thing - the theme of the article would remain the same. Normally when an article is "about" something this isn't true, right? (But, again, descriptions of markets and your intent. Not gonna lose sleep.)

@Najawin I thought my market description was pretty unambiguous

For an article to qualify as "about", there needs to be multiple paragraphs discussing the Lumina Probiotic—it doesn't need to be the only topic in the article, but it can't just be an offhand mention

By your own count, it refers to Lumina in 5 paragraphs. Even if some of those aren't complete paragraphs, surely there are "multiple paragraphs discussing Lumina Probiotic"? I specifically state that it doesn't need to be the only topic in the article. The title is necessarily a bit ambiguous—you can't convey much specificity in a title, which is why I kept the title quite general and explained a precise definition in the description. (if I instead said "does an article MENTION Lumina", that would have been even more misleading, because I'm not interested in some list that just happens to mention it offhand in a parenthetical).

It's hard to define these subjective markets in advance, so if there's debate I can call in a mod but I actually think in this case my description was pretty precise/unambiguous.

@Ziddletwix (the title does not completely describe the question, but there is no title that can completely describe the question with a limited set of characters. "mention", "reference", etc other choices of words would have been similarly imprecise. I used a rather general term to make sure people read the description for clarification)

@Ziddletwix fwiw the title at one point was even this:

I think this is a pretty clear yes.

@Ziddletwix I contend that it doesn't even discuss the probiotic. It mentions the existence of something, anything, to illustrate a point made. Again, use vs mention. It fails to use any salient details of the probiotic to reference the themes of the article. It could be anything.

Again, I invested 10m, I do not particularly care. But this is not meaningfully distinct from the scenario where we had two lists of probiotics, one listing everything Alexander tried, and one listing everything Hanania tried, which you yourself indicate wouldn't be something you think satisfies the criteria listed.

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4:06pm ET 4/17/24


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