A journalistic article, like a reserve bank note, is a lightweight convenience that invites the holder to redeem it for the promised underlying asset. For worldly currencies, it’s gold. For epistemic currencies, it’s truth.Articles are not “truth” — they’re supposedly redeemable for truth. They're promises that if you do your own research, you’ll reach the same conclusions the article claims.By trading in articles instead of mining for truth yourself, you put your trust in the article publishers.
An epistemic currency market would establish a direct relationship between prominence and scrutiny, illuminating the best ROI on your trust. For example, if market participants audit a publisher and find it has no truth in its reserves, then it is epistemically insolvent, and demand for its epistemic reserve note goes down (i.e., people exchange its articles less).If society manages trust using the same aggressive meticulousness with which it manages money, could the sheer lucrativeness of epistemic arbitrage make “obscure genius” a thing of the past, and keep the rate of ideological progress above zero forever?Here’s why this may be worth trying, regardless:Market incentives create the kind of consensus the information age demands, and also the kind of people who can tolerate it.