PredictIt Founder Once Wrote Book on How to Create a Nuclear Bomb

Written by:
Nagesh Rath
Published on:

John Aristotle Philips, founder of the political wagering site PredictIt, appeared on Michael Smerconish's CNN show Saturday morning to discuss how the US Government is trying to shut his website down after 8.5 years.

The site was originally welcomed with very specific restrictions.  Bets could be no more than $850 with a limit of 5000 people gambling on a particular market at any given time.

It was launched as part of a nonprofit educational project in conjunction with the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

The site is estimated to have some 80,000 people registered but it was unclear how many of those accounts are currrently active.

A spokesperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission told the Washington Post the platform's growth drew their ire as PredictIt now violated certain terms pertaining to capped usage.

To be clear, sites like BetOnline, offer a wide range of political futures bets.  BetOnline does not incorporate a trading platform and is based outside the US.

Philips is fighting back and he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  In 1976, while attending Princeton University as a junior undergraduate, he designed a nuclear weapon using publicly available books and papers.  He would later be dubbed "The A-Bomb Kid".

But in this case it appears to be the government that is going nuclear on PredictIt.


“Why is the government trying to take it away at this specific time?" Phillips asked Smerconish, noting he had no idea what was behind the recent initiative.

“It was abrupt and arbitrary," he offered.  “(It's) hard to see in a democracy like the US how a small dollar forecast would negatively impact (anything).  I would say it is positive."

These small wager gamblers do not engage in fake news, he suggested.

And a site like PredictIt tends to be quite accurate.

“Markets are very predictive of future events.  Markets are very effective.  Markets are not perfect but vastly outperforms public opinion polling.”

After 8.5 years one branch of government trying to shut it down is crazy, Phillips added.

- Nagesh Rath,

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