Betting on Conspiracies

That is the title of my latest work-in-progress, available here via SSRN. The subtitle of my paper is: Lessons from Kurt Gödel and the Leibniz Conspiracy. Here is the introduction to my paper (footnotes omitted):

“Was Kurt Gödel right about the existence of a secret conspiracy to conceal the ideas of Gottfried Leibniz? Did a small circle of sinister scholars somehow suppress some obscure works by Leibniz? Today, the German polymath Leibniz is known for his co-discovery–independently of Sir Isaac Newton–of the calculus, his metaphysical theory of monads, and his ‘best of all possible worlds’ doctrine, which was famously criticized by the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire in his classic 1759 satirical novella Candide. But according to the logician Kurt Gödel, the target of this secret anti-Leibniz plot was G. W. Leibniz’s single-most revolutionary and ambitious idea, an idea that inspired Gödel’s own contributions to mathematics and logic: Leibniz’s proposed universal language or characteristica universalis. Alas, Gödel’s alleged Leibniz Conspiracy raises more questions than it answers. Who would want to suppress the characteristica universalis, and why? And whatever their motives and identities, how could such a deep thinker like Gödel fall for such a far-fetched and improbable conspiracy theory?

“The remainder of this paper will thus be organized as follows: Part I will describe the “Leibniz Conspiracy” from Kurt Gödel’s point of view. By all accounts, Gödel created the Leibniz Conspiracy after spending countless hours researching the works of Leibniz and discovering significant gaps in the German philosopher’s published works. Next, Part II will explore the internal logic of conspiracy theories, using Franz Neumann’s classic work on ‘Anxiety and Politics’ as my point of departure. Part III will then explore a wide variety of ‘conspiracy theory theories.’ After all, if someone like Gödel, the greatest logician since Aristotle, could fall for a conspiracy theory, perhaps conspiracy thinking is more widespread than commonly believed. Part IV will then survey some recent proposals for combatting conspiracy theories or mitigating their negative effects and explain why these proposed ‘solutions’ are generally worse than the conspiracy-thinking disease they are trying to cure. Accordingly, Part V will make a novel proposal–the creation of a Conspiracy Theory Betting Market. In brief, a betting market would aggregate all available information about the truth values of various conspiracy theories by allowing people to bet on their beliefs about past events.”


About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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1 Response to Betting on Conspiracies

  1. Craig says:

    This will take quite a while to read and digest. I’m more familiar with Godel than Liebniz, so this will be educational in any event. – C

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