Bryan Caplan  

Tolerance Will Keep Rising: I'll Bet on It!

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On the Clock... My Plans...
In a thoughtful and provocative post, Tyler tells us:
Tolerance of gay individuals and alternative lifestyles is at a historic high.  I would not endorse a crude "regression toward the mean" hypothesis, but we should at least try it on for size.  That tolerance is as likely to fall back as to progress.
I say he's wrong.  I'm willing to bet Tyler $100 at even odds that any plausible measure of tolerance of gays and/or alternative lifestyles in the Western world will be higher 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years in the future.  For later time horizons, I'll give 2:1.  Give me a plausible measure and a time horizon, and the bet's on.

Clarification: I'll bet at even odds on rising tolerance during the next ten years, and 2:1 odds on rising tolerance for any later period.  If Tyler wants to bet on tolerance 50 or 100 years hence, I'm happy to let my heirs settle with his. :-)


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COMMENTS (13 to date)
ajb writes:

Does that include averaging over all the population? Straightforward average? Why? How does one weight the growth of sects that have stronger and more enforceable norms against them?

Taimyoboi writes:

I'd consider taking that bet if we define Western World as Europe.

Steve Horwitz writes:

If Tyler takes it, let me know because I will take the same deal with him. I think you're making a very wise bet Bryan.

Hume writes:

What do you mean by "alternative lifestyles"? If this includes obese individuals, smokers, or other lifestyles believed by most to be optional in some sense, I think you will lose.

What do you mean by "tolerance"? Does this mean "putting up with" certain lifestyles (without the use of the law to alter those lifestyles) or do you mean "hey, we dont hate you; in fact, we sympathize with you, but we just want to change you through the law"?

Blackadder writes:

At least in the U.S. attitudes about homosexuality are highly correlated with age. Basically the older a person is, the more anti-gay he is likely to be. This isn't simply a matter of people becoming more anti-gay as they get older. People born in 1950 are about as anti-gay now as they were when they were 30 (if anything they have mellowed as the years go by).

Given these trends, it's almost certain that America will continue to become more tolerant of homosexuality at least for the next several decades.

Norman writes:

Ten years? That's your planned time frame? Tyler's post is about the views of future generations, not a mere decade away. The time frame Tyler offers in the post is 50 to 100 years, and I'd love to hear how you plan to collect on that. Have you ever written a bet into your will?

Nelson writes:

I wish there would be more tolerance but the rise of groups demonizing "the other" for political purposes doesn't give me hope.

Eric writes:

I agree with Norman. The time scale Tyler means is generations, I think. The next ten years will be strongly determined by demographics as the less tolerant die and the more tolerant remain.

Dave writes:

What if the Western world stops being the Western world?

frankcross writes:

Hard to understand this claim -- because we have comparables! Recognizing female or black equality did not revert to the mean.

Troy Camplin writes:

I would bet with Bryan on this -- and include the U.S. The trend in the West ( would even argue worldwide, but to a lesser degree outside the West) has been towards ever-greater inclusion of others. It's Darwin's expanding notion of who is in your tribe.

jb writes:

The entire arc of western civilization has been one of growing tolerance of "the other" - start with nation states, human rights and descending into smaller and less visible minorities.

I would also not bet against Bryan on this, even over several generations. *UNLESS* there's some sort of massive catastrophe that is politically exploited to force a renewed hatred of outsiders.

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