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by John Stossel

        Donald Trump will probably lose the election.

        As I write, The Economist says he has only an 8% chance of winning.

        Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, which came closest to predicting Trump's win in 2016 and has the best track record among modelers, gives Trump just a 12% chance.

        But people who "put money where their mouths are" give Trump a better chance: 37%.

        That's according to ElectionBettingOdds.com, the website I created with Maxim Lott.  It tracks multiple betting sites around the world.

        Though 61%-37% seems like a giant lead for Joe Biden, 37% means Trump is likely to win one-third of the time.

        Four years ago, most bettors were wrong about Trump and Brexit. I assume they learned from that and adjusted their 2020 bets.

        But since bettors were wrong in 2016, why trust betting odds now?

        Because betting is a better predictor than polls, pundits, statistical models and everything else.

        ElectionBettingOdds.com has tracked hundreds of races. When bettors think a candidate has a 37% chance -- they really do win roughly that often.

        A research scientist at Amazon concluded that in the last presidential election, ElectionBettingOdds.com beat all other existing public prediction models except for Nate Silver's polls-plus model.

        Silver says: "Betting markets are populated by people with a sophomoric knowledge of politics... Traders are emotionally invested in political outcomes." Also, "Markets (are) not super liquid... way different than sports where you have a much more sophisticated player base and more liquidity."

        But our site takes odds from betting sites in Europe, the U.S. and a cryptocurrency-based exchange. More than $200 million has been bet.

        As Silver says in his excellent book, "The Signal and the Noise," "A lot of smart people have failed miserably when they thought they could beat the market."

        Overall, bettors have the best track record. Last election, The New York Times' "expert model" had Hillary Clinton ahead 85% to 15%. The Princeton Election Consortium gave Clinton a 99% chance. (Now they give Biden 98.2%.)

        Daily Kos had Clinton at 92%. Huffington Post had 98%. Those two stopped operating after that embarrassment.

        Silver is one modeler who's often beaten the market. In 2016, he gave Trump the highest odds, and in 2018, he was the most confident that Democrats would win the House.

        On the other hand, his FiveThirtyEight model was confident Democrats would win Florida's and Indiana's Senate races, making Democrats 70% favorites in both states. But Republicans won. Bettors were closer to predicting the actual results.

        Bettors do well because they consider many things not easily captured by polls and statistical models.

        How many mail-in ballots do not get counted? In the New York state primary this year, 20% were disqualified for irregularities.

        FiveThirtyEight "built in an extra layer of uncertainty this year because of the possibility that the pandemic will disrupt usual turnout patterns." But bettors believe it's not enough.

        Bettors also consider the possibility that polls are wrong in some new way.   

        In 2016, polls showed Clinton well ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, but pollsters hadn't questioned enough voters without college degrees. Who knows what mistakes pollsters are making now? 

        Betting sites' track records also do well because bettors invest their own money.  That focuses the mind.

        Today, bettors make other interesting predictions:

        They say there's a 56% chance a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved by March 31, and a 22% chance that Trump will pardon himself during his first term.

        They give 50/50 odds that this year be the hottest year on record.

        The Kansas City Chiefs (17%) and Baltimore Ravens (13%) have the best chance to win the Super Bowl, but since their total is only 30%, some other team is likely to win.

        Back to politics, ElectionBettingOdds.com's Senate map predicts Democrats will retake the senate, and might even sweep every contested state.

        If that happens, Democrats would have the power to end the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court and pass their whole agenda with simple majorities.

        As a libertarian, I sure hope that doesn't happen.

        I'll keep watching the odds at ElectionBettingOdds.com. They update every 5 minutes.

        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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by John Stossel

       When COVID-19 hit, I quarantined in Eastern Massachusetts.
        Biking around the woods, I noticed something strange.
        There are two campgrounds near my house. One is full. Lots of people pitch tents or park trailers at a place called Maurice's.
        A short bike ride away is a much bigger campground that's almost entirely empty.
        Why? It's the topic of my new video.
        The empty campground is run by the state.
        It has great facilities: a new paved road, new bathrooms, etc. Signs direct people to campsites, even to group camping, but there are almost no people. Dozens of picnic tables are turned upside-down.
        What a shame. This would be a great place to spend time during the pandemic.
        I asked one of the few people camping, "Why is this place so empty?"
        "Everything is sold out," he responded.
        Indeed, signs do say, "Camp is Full." But the camp is the opposite of full.
        "I think it's so empty because of COVID," said another camper.
        "Why would COVID-19 make it empty?" I ask. "It's camping! You got lots of room."
        She agreed, saying she's also wondered about that.
        We asked the Massachusetts Department of Parks why its camp was largely empty. They didn't respond. We kept calling and emailing until, nine days later, someone told us that they'd "had difficulties hiring seasonal employees."
        Really?! This summer, Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate in America. The state offers to pay workers up to $25 an hour, including benefits. Yet, they can't find people who'd work outdoors in a beautiful place in the summer?
        Maurice's Campground managed to hire enough staff. They have to because Maurice's is privately owned. If they don't please customers, then they can't stay in business. "If there was no staff, we were the staff," says owner John Gauthier.
        Gauthier innovates. Sometimes campers have helped clean the camp or staff the office. To save water, he charges customers 25 cents for six minutes in the shower. At the state camp, water is free; campers can waste all they want.
        The government bought the property in 2019 for $3.6 million. Last year, the camp's revenue fell thousands short of its operating costs. Now it loses even more money because it's largely empty.
        Such clear demonstrations of the difference between public and private are everywhere. But few people realize the reason why.
        Recently, The New York Times published an op-ed by "Sex in the City" actress Cynthia Nixon about her dismay over seeing her kids' public school's "chaotic ... and profoundly unsafe approach to reopening." By contrast, her Netflix production company was totally ready.
        She's become a politician, so she blames "underfunding." She doesn't mention that New York's government-run schools spend more than $20,000 per student.
        Her production company was ready because it's private. The bosses spend their own money. Spend it well, and they profit. Spend it badly, and they're out of work. That focuses the mind.
        Governments spend other people's money. No one spends other people's money as carefully as we spend our own.
        The owner of Maurice's Campground tries harder, and because of that, he serves many more campers than the taxpayer-subsidized camp.
        "It's kind of unfair," I say to Gauthier. "You have to compete against the government, which is losing all this money."
        He answers, "Yeah, it's not a great scenario, but what can we do?"
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        During slavery, many black women, often in a forcible union with a white man, bore mixed-race children. Based on their percentage of white blood, they were deemed "mulattos," "quadroons," "octoroons" or even "hexadecaroons." Depending on skin color, they could pass as white and avoid the gross racial discrimination suffered by their darker skinned brothers and sisters. This was portrayed in a 1949 motion picture titled "Pinky" that highlighted "passing" for white.
        Now the tables have been turned with some white women claiming they are black. For years, Rachel Dolezal claimed that she was black. As a result of her deception, she became president of the Spokane, Washington, office of the NAACP and an instructor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. Her two white parents outed her.
        Just recently, Jessica Krug, George Washington University professor of history, who for years claimed that she was black, confessed that she was white. Her faculty bio listed her as a scholar in African American history, imperialism and colonialism. Krug, in a fit of contrition, apologized for her "continued appropriation of a black Caribbean identity." She confessed: "I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech." After Krug's confession, she resigned from the GWU faculty.
        An Indianapolis activist for Black Lives Matter, Satchuel Paigelyn Cole, born to two white parents, has admitted to pretending to be black for years. CV Vitolo-Haddad, a graduate student at UW's School of Journalism and Mass Communications, after faking her race, has resigned from her teaching position and stepped down as co-president of the school's chapter of the Teaching Assistants' Association. One cannot be sure about race these days because of "blackfishing," a trend in which people alter their appearance to present themselves as black.
        Dolezal, Krug, Cole and others are not the only white women who have benefited from racial fakery. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, sometimes called "Pocahontas," claimed that she was of Cherokee Indian ancestry. That helped her land a job at diversity-hungry Harvard University as a professor of law and was paid $400,000 to teach two courses. She described herself as a minority in the Harvard Law School directory and claimed that her great-grandfather was Cherokee. Not only was her great-grandfather not a Cherokee as she claimed but he was a white man who boasted of shooting a Cherokee Indian.
        By the way, if as it has now become acceptable to call oneself a woman, when one has the anatomical equipment of a male, then why isn't it okay to claim that one is black, Latino or Asian when one is really Caucasian? According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, people self-identify their race or ethnicity.
        Personally, I do not hold Dolezal, Krug, Cole, Warren or other undiscovered university professors at fault for racial fakery. I am guilty of the same during my troubled time in the Army. In 1960, landing in Incheon harbor in Korea, I tried to fake my race. Arriving soldiers were required to fill out a form containing information such as blood type, religion and next of kin. I checked off "Caucasian" where it asked for race. A chief warrant officer, in charge of inspecting the forms noticed the entry and told me I should have checked off Negro. I told him that if I put down "Negro," I would get the worst job over there. The warrant officer probably changed the designation.
        Some years ago, I declared myself a springbok trapped in a human body. A springbok is a highly agile, cute, deer-like animal that resides in southern and southwestern African. Some people suggested that I suffered from a condition known as species dysphoria, in which one thinks he is a wild animal trapped in a human body. Species dysphoria is similar to gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person believes he is a woman trapped in a male body or a man trapped in a female body.
        Psychological counseling was recommended, which, in my opinion, is nothing less than animal phobia. One might ask, "Williams, why in the world would you want to call yourself a springbok?" The reason is quite simple. There is nothing in the Internal Revenue Code that says springboks have a federal tax obligation. If IRS officials were to demand that a springbok pay taxes, they could be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution and reported to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        The violence, looting and mayhem that this nation has seen over the last several months has much of its roots in academia, where leftist faculty teach immature young people all manner of nonsense that contradicts commonsense and the principles of liberty. Chief among their lessons is a need to attack free speech in the form of prohibitions against so-called hate speech and microaggressions. Here are examples of microaggressions: "You are a credit to your race." "Wow! How did you become so good in math?" "There is only one race, the human race." "I'm not racist. I have several black friends." "As a woman, I know what you go through as a racial minority."
        It is a tragic state of affairs when free speech and inquiry require protection at institutions of higher learning. Indeed, freedom in the marketplace of ideas has made the United States, as well as other Western nations, a leader in virtually every area of human endeavor. A monopoly of ideas is just as dangerous as a monopoly in political power or a monopoly in the production of goods and services.
        We might ask what is the true test of a person's commitment to free speech? The true test does not come when he permits people to say those things he deems acceptable. The true test comes when he permits people to say those things that he deems offensive. The identical principle applies to freedom of association; its true test comes when someone permits others to voluntarily associate in ways that he deems offensive.
        While free speech has been under attack, we are beginning to see some pushback. More than 12,000 professors, free speech leaders and conservative-leaning organization leaders have signed "The Philadelphia Statement."
        The 845-word document says in part: "Similarly, colleges and universities are imposing speech regulations to make students 'safe,' not from physical harm, but from challenges to campus orthodoxy. These policies and regulations assume that we as citizens are unable to think for ourselves and to make independent judgments. Instead of teaching us to engage, they foster conformism ("groupthink") and train us to respond to intellectual challenges with one or another form of censorship. A society that lacks comity and allows people to be shamed or intimidated into self-censorship of their ideas and considered judgments will not survive for long. As Americans, we desire a flourishing, open marketplace of ideas, knowing that it is the fairest and most effective way to separate falsehood from truth. Accordingly, dissenting and unpopular voices -- be they of the left or the right -- must be afforded the opportunity to be heard. They have often guided our society toward more just posi!
 tions, which is why Frederick Douglass said freedom of speech is the 'great moral renovator of society and government.'"
        The recognition of the intellectual elite attacking free speech is not new. In a 1991 speech, Yale University President Benno Schmidt warned: "The most serious problems of freedom of expression in our society today exist on our campuses. The assumption seems to be that the purpose of education is to induce correct opinion rather than to search for wisdom and to liberate the mind."
        Tyrants everywhere, from the Nazis to the communists, started out supporting free speech rights. Why? Because speech is important for the realization of leftist goals of command and control. People must be propagandized, proselytized and convinced. Once leftists have gained power, as they have in most of our colleges and universities, free speech becomes a liability. It challenges their ideas and agenda and must be suppressed.
        Attacks on free speech to accommodate multiculturalism and diversity are really attacks on Western values, which are superior to all others. The indispensable achievement of the West was the concept of individual rights, the idea that individuals have certain inalienable rights that are not granted by government. Governments exist to protect these inalienable rights. It took until the 17th century for that idea to arise and mostly through the works of English philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume. And now the 21st century campus leftists are trying to suppress these inalienable rights.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

        Recently, I released a video that called California's fires "government fueled."
        A few days later, Facebook inserted a warning on my video: "Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead."
        Some of my viewers now feel betrayed. One wrote: "Shameful, John... what happened to you!!? Your reporting was always fair... (but) your... fires story was so... unfair, even Facebook tagged it."
        A "fact-check" from Facebook carries weight.
        Worse, Facebook says that because my video is labeled misleading, it will show my content to fewer people.
        This kills me. My news model counts on social media companies showing people my videos.
        I confronted the fact-checkers. That's the topic of my newest video.
        Facebook's "fact-check" links to a page from a group called Climate Feedback that claims it sorts "fact from fiction" about climate change.
        They post this complaint about my video: "Forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change." They call that claim "misleading."
        It is misleading.
        But I never said that! In my video, I acknowledged: "Climate change has made things worse. California has warmed 3 degrees over 50 years."
        I don't know where Climate Feedback got their quote. Made it up? Quoted someone else?
        Facebook lets activists restrict my videos based on something I never said.
        Now, Facebook is a private company that can censor anything it wants. I understand the pressure they feel. All kinds of people demand that Facebook ban posts they don't like.
        There's no way Facebook can police everything. The site carries billions of posts.
        I wish they'd just let the information flow. People will gradually learn to sort truth from lies.
        But to please politicians, Facebook now lets other people censor their content. Mark Zuckerberg told Congress, "We work with a set of independent fact-checkers."
        That's how Climate Feedback got its power. Facebook made it a fact-checker.
        Facebook says I can appeal its throttling of my video, but my appeal must go to Climate Feedback, possibly the very activists who'd made up quotes from me.
        I tried to appeal. I emailed Nikki Forrester, Climate Feedback's editor. She didn't respond. But two of the three scientists listed as reviewers agreed to interviews.
        The first was Stefan Doerr of Swansea University.
        When I asked why he smeared me based on something I never said, he replied, "I've never commented on your article."
        That was a shock. He hadn't seen my video.
        I referred him to the Climate Feedback webpage that Facebook cited when labeling my video "misleading." The page lists him as a "reviewer."
        "If this is implying that we have reviewed the video," said Doerr, "then this is clearly wrong. There's something wrong with the system."
        There sure is.
        Doerr guessed that my video was flagged because I'd interviewed environmentalist Michael Shellenberger.
        His new book, "Climate Apocalypse," criticizes environmental alarmism. Climate Feedback says Shellenberger makes "overly simplistic argumentation about climate change."
        Their other reviewer was Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at The Breakthrough Institute. He hadn't seen my video either. "I certainly did not write a Climate Feedback piece reviewing your segment."
        So, I sent him the video. After he watched it, I asked, "Is (misleading) a fair label?"
        "I don't necessarily think so," he replied. "While there are plenty of debates around how much to emphasize fire management vs. climate change, your piece clearly discussed that both were at fault."
        After those confrontations, Climate Feedback's editor finally responded to our emails. She gave us an address where we could file a complaint.
        We did.
        They wrote back, "after reviewing the video" (at least they now watched it), they stand by their smear because the "video misleads viewers by oversimplifying the drivers of wildfires." And both scientists I interviewed wrote to say, yes, we agree, the video downplays the role of climate change.
        That's what this censorship is about. In my video, Shellenberger dares say, "A small change in temperature is not the difference between normalcy and catastrophe." Climate Feedback doesn't want people to hear that.
        It's wrong for Facebook to give these activists the power to throttle videos they don't like.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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