(Fun?) With Aggregation

2 Apr

Let me explain aggregation. It’s a theory (a wondrous theory) that if 99% of people are completely ignorant of EVERYTHING (which, as you know, they are relatively close to), then 49.5% will vote for one candidate, and 49.5% will vote for the other. That leaves the decision to the 1% who are informed. 

James Surowiecki (author of A Wisdom of Crowds) documented that in a contest to guess the weight of an ox, that with the number of participants guessing, the mean of their hypotheses’ will continue to grow closer to the true weight. This means that with more participants, accuracy will continue to increase, strictly considering a single-variable ideal.

They will, but politically, there’s a fatal flaw with aggregation (got it right that time). It’s called systematic error. For instance; people tend to under-estimate the benefits of interaction with foreign countries. Frédéric Bastiat (pronounced Fray-day-reek Bos-tiy-ay, only with a French accent) wrote this really sweet book called Economic Sophisms, in which you can read up about lots more of these biases. It’s great, truly great (ALMOST as great as linear equation systems with HUNDREDS of variable, OMG).

Anyways, right now public representation is pretty screwed up ‘cuz of this other fun thing called logical ignorance, meaning no oe has the time to inform themselves anyways, especially since they are well aware that their vote is BASICALLY useless. Even someone who devotes all kinds of time to informing themselves (in my opinion) doesn’t know enough to vote, aka no one does. Here’s why; you might know exactly what your ideologies are, but at the end of the day, you don’t know if a candidate really holds the same ideologies. We have evidence that they tend to care more about getting elected than honesty. But you know…

So there are 3 options; 1.) Find a way to educate the general public so that they can find the candidate that really supports their best interest (except I already talked briefly about why we can’t, because would it even matter?) 2.) Make it simpler (except we can’t- too many representatives who want it this way; more loopholes), or 3.) Give up on democracy- whaa…? That’s heresy!

In the words of Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”


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