Will we believe Seymour Hersh's account of the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage is credible? [Resolves to poll]
resolved Feb 24
Resolved as

The article: How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline

I will randomly select a subset of participants to form a survey panel. Make a trade or like the market to be eligible to be selected. At a future point in time, they will answer the following poll question:

What is your credence (the probability of your belief) that Seymour Hersh's account is largely accurate?

Resolves to the median poll response in 1 year, or when sufficient evidence to confirm or disconfirm the account has come out (as judged by myself and the survey panel), whichever is earlier.



Hersh first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. During the 1970s, Hersh covered the Watergate scandal for The New York Times and revealed the clandestine bombing of Cambodia. In 2004, he reported on the U.S. military's mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. He has also won two National Magazine Awards and five George Polk Awards. In 2004, he received the George Orwell Award.[7]

However... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Hersh#Use_of_anonymous_sources

There has been sustained criticism of Hersh's use of anonymous sources.[66][72][73][26] Critics, including Edward Jay Epstein and Amir Taheri, say he is over-reliant on them.[66][72][73]

In response to an article in The New Yorker in which Hersh alleged that the U.S. government was planning a strike on Iran, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bryan G. Whitman said, "This reporter has a solid and well-earned reputation for making dramatic assertions based on thinly sourced, unverifiable anonymous sources."[74]


Hersh's story is amazing to read, alleging a vast American-Pakistani conspiracy to stage the raid and even to fake high-level diplomatic incidents as a sort of cover. But his allegations are largely supported only by two sources, neither of whom has direct knowledge of what happened, both of whom are retired, and one of whom is anonymous. The story is riven with internal contradictions and inconsistencies.

The story simply does not hold up to scrutiny — and, sadly, is in line with Hersh's recent turn away from the investigative reporting that made him famous into unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Motivation for this poll method is so that the selected respondents can potentially spend more time reading up about it, and less just based on people's initial impressions.

(If you have thoughts/feedback/suggestions on how best to run a question like this, please let me know!)


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The poll responses were:





Poll resolves to the median, 0.75%, which rounds to 1%.

Thanks all for participating! I think this format worked pretty well.


Looks like he was played. I figure the NYT is being played too, or playing along. I wouldn't put more than 5% on any theory or evidence that comes out while this still matters.

Thanks for the comment. It looks like you weren't previously a participant in the market, correct? So this response won't be included in the resolution, but thanks anyway.

Edit: nvm, I see you bought and then sold, ignore me.

Putin says the CIA did it. He said the United States are the ones that had the capability. This was mentioned in his Tucker Carlson interview. Of course, people will take this with a grain of salt.

Ok, it's been 1 year, time to run the poll. There are only ~20 people who participated so I think we can just include all of them in the poll rather than randomly selecting a fraction of them. (I.e. the subset will just be the entire set, which I think it permissible.) Any objections to that?

Also, if anyone wants to post updates/analysis/etc, now would be a good time.

Anyone who participated in this market or liked this market is eligible to join the poll. Comment here with your response to:

What is your credence (the probability of your belief) that Seymour Hersh's account is largely accurate?

If you join the poll, you must answer with your honest belief.

@jack 0.5%

@jack .5%

@traders Final call for the poll, respond by Feb 21, will resolve the market after that.

@jack my current estimate is 1% but I have not really researched it. Feel free to disregard my estimate in your poll.

@harfe It looks like you weren't previously a participant in the market, is that right? If so, this response won't be included in the resolution as per the resolution rules, but thanks for adding your thoughts anyway.

@jack I bought and sold NO a year ago.

bought Ṁ50 of NO


IMO this significantly reduces the chances that Seymour Hersh's story is broadly accurate.

@jack US government intelligence agency says "US government didn't do it!!" - news at 11.

Article is paywalled - are they making any actual evidence publicly available, or is this Iraqi WMDs all over again?

@jack "The new intelligence provided no evidence so far of the Ukrainian government’s complicity in the attack on the pipelines" 🤔

@jack Notable that US and Russian intelligence are now in agreement that an anti-Russian actor is responsible.

predicted NO

@SG That's not notable at all considering their entirely mutually exclusive theories.

Russia says the Royal Navy did it.

Seymour Hersh says that the US and Norway did it.

US/Germany says with low confidence that a Ukrainian group did it.

predicted NO

Archive link for the NYT article https://archive.is/53Yiw.

The reporting is extremely light on details, but basically NYT's investigation leads them to believe that the sabotage was likely conducted by a pro-Ukranian/anti-Putin group. From the discussion on the NYT podcast, they also think that it was probably not done directly by a military, but rather by non-state actors (perhaps covertly sponsored by a state, perhaps not).

IMO this story is much more plausible than Hersch's. At least it reports what they actually know (which is very little detail, just is a broad intel claim without specific evidence), without trying to make tons of unsubstantiated claims about details that appear to be full of holes (see the article that was previously linked https://unherd.com/thepost/osint-picks-holes-in-seymour-hershs-nord-stream-claims/?s=09, and similarly for Hersch's bin Laden story see https://www.vox.com/2015/5/11/8584473/seymour-hersh-osama-bin-laden)

From Wikipedia (h/t Jim R from Unherd):

"My Lai was first revealed to the American public on November 13, 1969—almost two years after the incident—when Hersh published a story through the Dispatch News Service. The article threatened to undermine the U.S. war effort and severely damage the Nixon presidency. Inside the White House, officials privately discussed how to contain the scandal. On November 21, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger emphasized that the White House needed to develop a “game plan”, to establish a “press policy”, and maintain a “unified line” in its public response to the incident. The White House established a “My Lai Task Force” whose mission was to “figure out how best to control the problem”, to make sure that administration officials “all don’t go in different directions” when discussing the incident, and to “engage in dirty tricks”. These included discrediting key witnesses and questioning Hersh’s motives for releasing the story. What soon followed was a public relations offensive by the administration designed to shape how My Lai would be portrayed in the press and understood among the American public.”