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AlanCrowe comments on Politics as Charity - Less Wrong

29 Post author: CarlShulman 23 September 2010 05:33AM

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Comment author: AlanCrowe 23 September 2010 11:32:39PM -2 points [-]

The big problem is that many ordinary people already outperform the standard wrong classical causal decision theory. They get the vote out, they get their man into power, they get the preferences, restraints, and rents they are seeking and they laugh all the way to the bank.

There is a saying that a paradox is to a logician as the smell of burning insulation is to the electrical engineer. Many paradoxes are not really that serious, but the voting paradox strikes me analogous to seeing flames.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 26 September 2010 02:39:25AM 4 points [-]

The big problem is that many ordinary people already outperform the standard wrong classical causal decision theory. They get the vote out, they get their man into power, they get the preferences, restraints, and rents they are seeking and they laugh all the way to the bank.

Elections have losers as well as winners. Do you think people who vote for losers have a different decision theory to the people who vote for winners?

I remember a scene from a novel by Gene Wolfe in which a bunch of tribesmen find themselves on a battlefield against a foe armed with energy weapons. The tribesmen all engage in superstitious ritual meant to provide personal protection. Some of them get blown to bits and some don't. The ones who survive are going to end up thinking that their ritual works.

By focusing only on the victors in the ritual of democracy, when you judge the rationality of the slackers who don't vote at all, you are creating a similar illusion. Supporters of the loser do everything that supporters of the winner do. They go house to house, they hold rallies, they donate money, they send letters to the editor. They make that big investment of time, hope, and energy, because they believe in democracy, and they still don't get any of what they want.

Comment author: AlanCrowe 27 September 2010 10:57:18AM 1 point [-]

Your rhetorical question contains a noun-phrase "people who vote for losers". This seems to refer to the faction that misses out on the spoils of the electoral system because too many members of the faction subscribe to the theory the voting doesn't matter, resulting in the faction losing because they couldn't get their vote out. So the words "people who vote" are being used to refer to people who don't vote.

This reminds me that I ought to stop reading LessWrong and get back to work on OuterCircle