Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
The impact of genetic enhancement on equality found via another paper: The rhetoric and reality of gap closing—when the “have-nots” gain but the “haves” gain even more (Stephen J. Ceci and Paul B. Papierno), which i was reading becus i was reading varius papers on Linda Gottfredson’s homepage.
There apparently is a genuine possibility that genetic and non-
genetic mechanisms eventually will be able to significantly en-
hance human capabilities and traits generally. Examining
this prospect from the standpoint of equality considerations is
one useful way to inquire into the effects of such enhancement
technologies. Because of the nature and limitations of compet-
ing ideas of equality, we are inevitably led to investigate a very
broad range of issues. This Article considers matters of distri-
bution and withholding of scarce enhancement resources and
links different versions of equality to different modes of distri-
bution. It briefly addresses the difficulties of defining “en-
hancement” and “trait” and links the idea of a “merit attribute”
to that of a “resource attractor.” The role of disorder-based jus-
tifications is related to equality considerations, as is the possi-
bility of the reduction or “objectification” of persons arising
from the use of enhancement resources. Risks of intensified
and more entrenched forms of social stratification are outlined.
The Article also considers whether the notion of merit can sur-
vive, and whether the stability of democratic institutions based
on a one-person, one-vote standard is threatened by attitude
shifts given the new technological prospects. It refers to John
Stuart Mill’s “plural voting” proposal to illustrate one chal-
lenge to equal-vote democracy.
Nevertheless, it is conceivable that, despite rigorous division of
labor, there may be political and social equality of a sort. Different
professions, trades, and occupations and the varying aptitudes un-
derlying them might be viewed as equally worthy. The “alphas”
may be held equal to the “betas,” though their augmentations (via
the germ line or the living body) and life-work differ. Perhaps
(paradoxically?) there will be an “equality of the enhanced” across
their categories of enhancement. But do not count on it.
sort of. at least one study showed that nootropics have greater effect the lower the intelligence of the population. so, in theory, it is possible that at some theoretical maximum M relative to drug D, the drug wud hav no effect. and everybody under that M wud be boosted to M, given adequate volumes of D.
i did come across another study with this IQ-drug interaction effect once, but apparently i didnt save it on my computer, and i cant seem to find it again. it is difficult to find papers about exactly this it seems.
below is a figure form the study i mentioned abov. it is about ritalin:
somthing similar seems to be the case with modafinil, another nootropic. it wud be interesting to see if ther is any drug-drug interaction between ritalin and modafinil, specifically, whether they stack or not.
here is the best study mentioned on Wikipedia: Cognitive effects of modafinil in student volunteers may depend on IQ
as for the topic of cognitiv enhancers in general, see this somewhat recent 2010 systematic overview. it appears that ritalin isnt a good cognitiv enhancer, but modafinil is promising for non-sleep deprived persons. Modafinil and methylphenidate for neuroenhancement in healthy individuals a systematic review
a. Enhancement and democratic theory: Millian plural voting
and the attenuation of democracy.
i. Kinds of democracy; is one-person, one-vote a defining char-
acteristic of democracy? Most persons now acknowledge that there
are stunning differences, both inborn and acquired, among individu-
als. Not everyone can be a physicist, novelist, grandmaster, astro-
naut, juggler, athlete, or model, at least without enhancement, and
those who can will vary sharply among themselves in abilities.
For better or worse, these differences make for serious social,
economic, and political inequalities. The question here is what ef-
fect these differences in human characteristics ought to have on
various matters of political governance. If we are not in fact equal
to each other in deliberative ability, judgment, and drive, why do we
all have equal voting power in the sense that, when casting ballots
in general elections, no one’s vote counts for more than another’s?
We are not equal in our knowledge of the issues, our abilities to as-
sess competing arguments, the nature and intensities of our prefer-
ences, our capacities to contribute to our social and economic sys-
tem, our stakes in the outcomes of particular government policies, or
even in our very interest in public affairs.
this topic was the primary reason i started reading this paper.
i also found som other papers dealing with Millian meritocracy, i suppose one cud call it. i came upon the idea individually, but was preceded by JS Mill with about 200 years.
his writing on the subject is here: John Stuart Mill – Considerations on Representative Government
another paper i found is this: Why Not Epistocracy
Very interesting two papers by Somin! I will definitely check out his other stuff when i have time. I just took the time off reading papers before i start reading book #2 on patents (Against Intellectual Monopoly).
ABSTRACT: Advocates of ‘‘deliberative democracy’’ want citizens to actively
participate in serious dialogue over political issues, not merely go to the polls every
few years. Unfortunately, these ideals don’t take into account widespread political
ignorance and irrationality. Most voters neither attain the level of knowledge
needed to make deliberative democracy work, nor do they rationally evaluate the
political information they do possess. The vast size and complexity of modern
government make it unlikely that most citizens can ever reach the levels of
knowledge and rationality required by deliberative democracy, even if they were
better informed than they are at present.
How very depressing in relation to liquid democracy/feedback!
Deliberative democracy is one of the most influential ideas in modern
political thought. Advocates want citizens to actively participate in the
democratic process by seriously deliberating over important issues, not
merely voting for or against candidates put forward by political parties.
They hope that voters will not only develop a solid factual understanding
of political issues, but will also debate the moral principles at stake in a
rational and sophisticated fashion. Deliberative democrats expect more of
voters than merely acting to ‘‘throw the bums out’’ if things seem to be
These high aspirations are admirable and appealing. Unfortunately,
they run afoul of the reality of widespread voter ignorance and
irrationality. Moreover, even if voters were significantly better informed
and more rational than most are today, the vast size and complexity of
modern government would prevent them from acquiring enough
knowledge and sophistication to deliberate over more than a small
fraction of the full range of issues currently decided by government. Such
difficulties become even more acute in light of the fact that many
deliberative democrats want the political process to control even more of
society than is already the case. Previous scholarship has only tentatively
considered the implications of widespread voter ignorance and irration-
ality for deliberative democracy.1
This article is intended to close the gap
in the literature more fully. My analysis focuses on theories of
deliberative democracy that require deliberation by ordinary citizens. I
do not consider the distinct question of deliberation by legislators or
Parts IV#VI consider three proposals to increase political knowledge
that have been advanced by deliberative democrats. These include using
education to raise the level of political knowledge, increasing knowledge
by having voters engage in structured deliberation, and transferring
authority to lower levels of government where individual voters might
have stronger incentives to acquire information. Finally, I will briefly
suggest that deliberative ideals might be more effectively advanced by
limiting the role of government in society.
Deliberative democracy is a normative ideal, not an attempt to explain
present-day reality. However, an attractive normative ideal must be
feasible. The problem of political ignorance casts serious doubt on the
feasibility of deliberative democracy. Moreover, some proposals put
forward by deliberative democrats, if implemented, may well cause more
harm than good.
The second proposal was my idea as well. It better work, otherwise liquid feedback might be very bad indeed.
Decades of public opinion research show that most voters are very far
from meeting the knowledge prerequisites of deliberative democracy. To
Somin • Political Ignorance & Deliberative Democracy 257the contrary, they are often ignorant even of very basic political information.
In 2009, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats put
forward ambitious plans to restructure the U.S. health-care system and
impose a ‘‘cap and trade’’ system to restrict carbon emissions and combat
global warming. Both plans were widely discussed in the media and
elsewhere. Yet a September 2009 survey found that only 37 percent of
Americans claimed to ‘‘understand’’ the health care plan, a figure that
likely overestimates the true level of understanding.7 A May 2009 poll
showed that only 24 percent of Americans realized that the important
‘‘cap and trade’’ proposal recently passed by the House of Representa-
tives as an effort to combat global warming addressed ‘‘environmental
issues.’’ Some 46 percent believed that it was either a ‘‘health-care
reform’’ or a ‘‘regulatory reform for Wall Street.’’8
Until the Obama health-care reform passed in March 2010, the largest
new federal domestic program enacted in the previous 40 years had been
the Bush Administration’s prescription-drug entitlement, enacted in
2003. Yet a December 2003 poll showed that almost 70 percent of
Americans did not even know that Congress had passed the law (Somin
Public ignorance is not limited to information about specific policies.
It also extends to knowledge of political parties, ideologies, and the basic
structure and institutions of government (Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996;
Somin 1998 and 2004c). For example, a majority of voters are ignorant
of such fundamentals of the U.S. political system as who has the power
to declare war, the respective functions of the three branches of
government, and who controls monetary policy (Delli Carpini and
Keeter 1996, 70#71). A 2006 Zogby poll found that only 42 percent of
Americans could even name the three branches of the federal
government (Somin 2010, ch. 2). Another 2006 survey revealed that
only 28 percent could name two or more of the five rights guaranteed by
the First Amendment to the Constitution (ibid.). A 2002 Columbia
University study found that 35 percent believed that Karl Marx’s dictum
‘‘From each according to his ability to each according to his need’’ is
enshrined the Constitution; 34 percent said they did not know if it was,
and only 31 percent correctly answered that it was not (Dorf 2002).
Similarly, years of survey data show that most of the public has little
understanding of the basic differences between liberalism and con-
servatism (RePass 2008; Somin 2010, ch. 2). They are often also
confused about the differences between the policy positions of the two
major parties (e.g., Somin 2004a).
Widespread political ignorance has persisted over time, despite
massive increases in education and the availability of information through
new technologies such as the internet.9 It seems unlikely to diminish
substantially in the foreseeable future.
Holy shit. Wud be very interesting to see cross-national data on some of these things. One cud use something like the separation of power as a question. Even tho the countries differ in how they do that, most of them do it in some way, and it is thus possible to ask and see whether people know how their country does it.
There is nothing inherently objectionable about people who acquire
political information for reasons other than becoming a better voter. It is
perfectly understandable if people wish to follow politics for any number
of reasons. Problems arise, however, when these motives conflict with
the goal of rational evaluation of information for the purpose of making
informed political decisions. To take one such case, people who acquire
information for the purpose of cheering on their political ‘‘team’’ or
confirming their existing views are likely to overvalue information that
confirms those views and undervalue or ignore anything that cuts against
them. Extensive evidence suggests that this is in fact the way most
committed partisans evaluate political information.14 Experiments show
that political partisans not only reject new information casting doubt on
their beliefs, but sometimes actually respond by believing in them even
more fervently (Bullock 2006; Nyhan and Reifler 2009). Thus, a recent
study found that conservatives presented with evidence showing that
U.S. forces failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were
actually strengthened in their pre-existing view thatWMDs were present
(Nyhan and Reifler 2009, 11#15). Similarly, liberals confronted with
evidence that 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had
incorrectly claimed that the Bush Administration had ‘‘banned’’ stem-
cell research persisted in their pre-existing view that the charge was
accurate (ibid., 23#24). Similarly, most people discuss political issues only
with those who agree with them (Mutz 2006, 29#41). This tendency is
most pronounced among ‘‘those most knowledgeable about and
interested in politics’’ (ibid., 37), which implies that those who seek
out political knowledge the most are not motivated primarily by truth-
seeking. If they were, it would make sense to sample a wide variety of
sources, possibly placing particular emphasis on those with viewpoints
opposed to one’s own. The latter are more likely to expose the truth-
seeker to facts and analysis that he has not already considered. As John
Stuart Mill ( 1975, 35#51) famously emphasized in On Liberty, we
are more likely to discover the truth if we consider opposing viewpoints,
not merely those that we already agree with.
Wow. Good thing im primarily a filosofer with truth as the goal, and not party politics. Impartial truth-seekers are perhaps the best politicians then? If so, then thats sad since they are the ones least likely to become politicians in todays system.
In addition to processing information in ways that provide internal
psychological gratification, people also often try to express opinions that
conform to social expectations and seek to avoid negative reactions from
other members of the community (Kuran 1995; Sunstein 2003). For
example, people in a socially conservative community may hesitate to
express approval of gay marriage for fear of alienating antigay friends,
family members, and neighbors. Those in politically liberal settings such
as university campuses often hesitate to criticize liberal policies such as
affirmative action (Kuran 1995, 310#25). Even in a relatively tolerant
liberal democratic society, dissenters often hesitate to openly endorse
unpopular views; they instead find it easier to pretend to agree with the
majority. Such ‘‘preference falsification’’16 can easily lead people to reject
powerful arguments against socially approved positions, or even to
refrain from voicing them in the first place.
Preference falsification can infect many kinds of political processes.
But it is an especially serious danger in a deliberative democracy, where
citizens have to engage in open dialogue on political issues and therefore
take positions (or refrain from doing so) in a setting where other
members of the community can observe them. Under ‘‘aggregative’’
democracy, by contrast, voters usually make decisions and access
information in more private settings and therefore may face less pressure
To combat this problem, liquid feedback systems shud have anonymization in various ways. Perhaps by allowing users to go under many different names, but only allow them to vote once.
IV. CAN EDUCATION SAVE DEMOCRACY?
Is it possible not to love this guy? :D
If political ignorance is rational and most voters choose not to learn
much about politics for that reason, widespread ignorance is a phenom-
enon that democracies will probably have to live with for the foresee-
able future. The challenge for democracy is to ﬁnd a way to minimize
the harm that political ignorance can cause.
Assuming that we shud keep a democratic government form, then yes, this is correct. Altho, giving people more power shud, according to this theory, also result in them taking more time to educate themselves. That’s an interesting and optimistic implication.
Here, I want to emphasize a different shortcoming of shortcuts, one
that was partly anticipated in Converse’ s #$%! paper. Both empirical ev-
idence and the theory of rational ignorance suggest that most voters
acquire political knowledge not primarily for the purpose of casting a
more informed vote, but for entertainment purposes or to satisfy other
psychological needs. If this is so, the shortcuts they use might likewise
be chosen to serve nonvoting purposes rather than to cast a “better”
ballot. Such voters could rationally choose not to evaluate the political
information they have in an objective way: a form of “rational irra-
tionality” (Caplan &”"#). Again, such a choice need not involve precise,
conscious calculations about the costs and beneﬁts of evaluating politi-
cal information objectively . As with the decision to vote and the deci-
sion not to spend much time acquiring political information, the
choice not to put much effort into analyzing political information ob-
jectively could simply be the result of an intuitive sense that there is lit-
tle or no beneﬁt to engaging in such analysis.On the other hand, voters
can easily recognize that extensive knowledge acquisition imposes sub-
stantial potential costs in terms of time and emotional stress.Thus, a de-
cision not to analyze political information rigorously could be an ex-
ample of “satisﬁcing” behavior (Simon #$)’), where individuals make
rational decisions but do not necessarily engage in rigorous calculation.
Such dynamics might often lead voters to use shortcuts that mislead
rather than inform. For example, the use of party-label and ideological
shortcuts led both voters and even many sophisticated political elites to
misperceive President Richard Nixon’ s policies as conservative (Hoff
#$$!). Nixon presided over an unprecedented expansion of the welfare
state, established afﬁrmative action, created the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency , proposed a guaranteed annual income and national health
insurance, and established closer relations with communist China and
the USSR. But he was still widely perceived as a right-winger. Simi-
larly , liberals rallied around President Bill Clinton, while conservatives
rushed to condemn him, despite his endorsement of conservative poli-
cies on free trade, welfare reform, crime control, and other important
issues. Liberals defended Clinton and conservatives attacked him in
large part because of what he represented on a symbolic level as a “draft
dodger” and philanderer, rather than on the basis of his substantive
policies (Posner #$$$). In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the desire
of liberal and conservative “fans” to rally around their leader or con-
demn a perceived ideological adversary blinded them to important as-
pects of the president’s policies—despite the fact that information
about these policies was readily available.
Yes, those odd #”¤(“)# symbols seem to be a bug in the OCR’ing of the paper. Apparently, the OCR misinterprets numerals. Odd. Perhaps deliberate?
Recent evidence conﬁrms the possibility that even the most knowl-
edgeable ideologues might systematically pick ideological shortcuts that
mislead more than they inform. A study of experts in politics and in-
ternational relations ﬁnds that their predictions of political events are
usually no more accurate than would be produced by random chance
(Tetlock &”"(). Of greater interest for present purposes is the ﬁnding
that the most inaccurate experts are those that tend to make their pre-
dictions on the basis of broad generalizations—that is, experts who rely
the most on ideological shortcuts (ibid., chs. *–().7 This result could be
interpreted as an indication that the experts in question are irrational.
However, most social-science experts are rewarded not for the accuracy
of their predictions but on the basis of the originality and apparent so-
phistication of their scholarship. Similarly, pundits and other public in-
tellectuals are rewarded for their popularity with readers and viewers,
not their prescience (Posner &”"&). Few, if any, Conversean “ideo-
logues” can increase either their incomes or their professional standing
by improving the accuracy of the ideological shortcuts they use. As a
result, they , like ordinary voters, often have little incentive to use short-
cuts effectively , and considerable incentive to stick with shortcuts that
are often inaccurate.
Interesting. Also reminds me that i really shud get around to reading the book Wrong: Why experts* keep failing us–and how to know when not to trust them, of which i unfortunately do not have an electronic copy… which means that i likely wont be reading it any time soon. Time has a review of it here.
In addition to arguing for the utility of shortcuts, defenders of the view
that widespread political ignorance is not a serious problem have main-
tained that information problems can be overcome by means of the so-
called “miracle of aggregation” (Converse #$$”; Page and Shapiro #$$&;
Wittman #$$(). According to this theory , if ignorant voters’ errors are
randomly distributed, then the “incorrect” ballots cast for candidate A
will be canceled out by similar mistakes in favor of Candidate B, and
the votes of the relatively well informed will determine electoral out-
This argument has a number of flaws, including the fact that the
well-informed minority that determines electoral outcomes in this sce-
nario is likely to be highly unrepresentative of the electorate as a whole
(Delli Carpini and Keeter #$$%; Somin #$$)). On the other side of the
ledger, the danger that voters may rationally rely on inaccurate and mis-
leading shortcuts suggests a particularly powerful reason why their er-
rors are unlikely to be random. On many issues, ignorance shows sys-
tematic patterns of bias in one direction or another (see, e.g., Delli
Carpini and Keeter #$$%; Caplan &”"&; and Althaus &”"*). This is to be
expected if voters, including even many relatively knowledgeable “ide-
ologues, ” are relying on opinion leaders, ideologies, and other shortcuts
that have been selected for reasons other than accuracy.
Recent research suggests that even the most sophisticated and highly
rational voters may rely on shortcuts that have little relevance to politi-
cal candidates’ likely performance in ofﬁce. For example, a recent study
of elections for the presidency of the American Economics Association
shows that the relative physical attractiveness of the rival candidates is a
powerful predictor of which candidate prevails in the voting (Hamer-
mesh &”"(). The AEA electorate consists of academic economists who
are presumably knowledgeable about the functions of the AEA—and
presumably more committed to rational, maximizing behavior than is
the average voter in ordinary elections. If such voters nonetheless rely
on dubious information shortcuts, it is likely that voters in other elec-
tions are at least equally likely to do so.8
Interesting argument. Reminded my of wisdom of the crowds.
As for the influence of fysical attractiveness. Yeah.. I have for a long time been playing with the idea the politicians shud be anonymous for voting purposes. The idea is to get rid of such effects. I dont know how feasible that idea is. However, certainly, some improvements to the current situation can be made. For instance, outlawing election posters. They use the same effect/bias that ads also use, namely, the mere exposure effect. More rational TV-debates are also possible.
An important implication of the rational-ignorance hypothesis is that
voter knowledge is unlikely to increase very much merely as a result of
the greater availability of information. Even if information is readily
available at low cost, rationally ignorant voters have little or no incentive
to spend time learning it and weighing its implications. This inference is
borne out by empirical evidence showing little or no change in political
$knowledge levels over the last (” years, despite greatly increased educa-
tion levels and a parallel increase in the availability of information
through electronic and other media (e.g., Bennett #$)) and #$$%; Smith
#$)$; Delli Carpini and Keeter #$$%; and Althaus &”"*). Thus, advocates
of ambitious theories of democratic participation cannot expect most
voters to reach the knowledge levels their theories require anytime soon.
In most modern democracies, government spending accounts for at
least a third of GDP , and the regulatory activities of the state extend to
almost all areas of life. In the United States, federal spending accounts
for &”.) percent of GDP , and state and local governments spend an ad-
ditional #*.’ percent.13 And the growth of government spending over
the last century has been matched by a parallel expansion of regulation
Rationally ignorant voters are unable to keep track of more than a
tiny fraction of all this government activity. Indeed, they probably
would be unable to do so even with considerably greater knowledge
than most of them currently possess.Other things equal, the greater the
size and complexity of government, the greater the likelihood that
many of its activities will escape meaningful democratic control.14 This
result is troubling both for those scholars who regard democratic con-
trol of public policy as an intrinsic good (e.g., Pateman #$’” and Barber
#$)!), and those who value it for purely instrumental reasons such as
the need to curb abuses of power by political elites.
I agree with the last reason mentioned, that is, reason we need some kind of democracy is to avoid abuses of power i.e. nepotism and then like (read the link for many interesting examples).
In a federal system, citizens dissatisﬁed with government policy in their
state have the choice of either trying to use “voice” (traditional voting)
to address their grievances, or opting for “exit”: leaving for a jurisdic-
tion with more favorable policies (Hirschman #$’”).15 Those who
choose the exit option in effect “vote with their feet. ” Voice and exit
each have their respective strengths and weaknesses (ibid.). But one that
is largely ignored by most analysts is the comparative incentives they
create for knowledge acquisition.
The effectiveness of voice is signiﬁcantly constrained by rational ig-
norance. As we have seen, individual voters have little incentive to ac-
quire and effectively use relevant information about public policy . By
contrast, exit has the tremendous comparative advantage of creating
strong incentives for individuals to acquire the necessary information to
make decisions about where to live.16 A knowledgeable individual or
family can move to a more hospitable jurisdiction even if the neighbors
left behind remain ignorant. Thus, individuals are likely to put much
more effort into acquiring information about the best jurisdiction in
which to live than into acquiring knowledge about the right candidate
to vote for. Moreover, effective “foot voting” may require less detailed
information than ballot-box voting, since the former does not entail
knowing which ofﬁcials are responsible for which policies. It also obvi-
ates the need to be able to separate out the impact of multiple govern-
ment policies from each other, and from the effects of background so-
Empirical evidence shows that even severely oppressed populations
with very low education levels can often acquire remarkably accurate
information about differences in conditions between jurisdictions and
then make the decision to vote with their feet. For example, in the
early twentieth century , millions of poor African-Americans in the Jim
Crow-era South were able to determine that conditions were relatively
better for them in the North (and sometimes in other parts of the
South) and make the necessary moves (Henri #$’(; Cohen #$)$; Bern-
stein #$$), ‘)&–)(). This achievement stands in sharp contrast to the
failure of many of today’ s much better educated (and certainly less op-
pressed) voters to acquire basic political knowledge.
In order for foot voting to be effective, however, political power must
be at least partly decentralized. In a unitary state in which all or most
important policies are set by the central government, there is no exit
option other than the very difﬁcult and costly one of leaving the coun-
try entirely . Thus, the informational advantages of foot voting over bal-
lot-box voting provide an important argument in favor of political de-
Obviously , foot voting is not a panacea for all the shortcomings of
government policy. For example, it cannot protect immobile people and
assets, such as property rights in land. And it is far from the only con-
sideration that needs to be taken into account in determining the opti-
mal level of political decentralization.18 Nonetheless, the informational
advantages of foot voting deserve considerably greater attention from
students of federalism and institutional development.
Very interesting argument. So, we have been moving in the wrong direction in Denmark for some time now, it seems. Very interesting to wonder what wud happen if, for instance, drug laws were a matter of regional law not national. Certainly, this makes experimentation much easier. Experimentation obviously makes it easier to know what works, and what doesnt.
One note about such a form. Some central government is necessary (i suspect, havent done research), and it has the incentitive to try to acquire more power constantly by enacting new laws, precisely as we see it in the US.
One good thing tho. If we can avoid more centralization in the future, especially some kind of world government (basically, expanding the power of FN, EU and the like). Then, becus traveling costs becom progressivly smaller over time, foot voting will becom progressivly less costly. Yay, something to look forward to! When i talk with people living in the US, i often suggest to them that they simply MOVE out of the US. That country is beyond repair (its voting system is locked in a two party system, see various films by CCPGrey), and only a revolution can fix it.
It is no secret that majority opinion in the Arab world and in many
other Muslim countries is largely hostile to the United States. Some an-
alysts attribute this result to speciﬁc U.S. policies, such as support for Is-
rael and the Iraq War (e.g., Scheuer &”"!), while others cite a “clash of
civilizations” between fundamentally opposed Western and Muslim
value systems (e.g., Huntington #$$)). Either or both of these explana-
tions may be valid. But it is also important to consider the possible con-
tribution of widespread political ignorance.
As the data in Table # show, a &”"& Gallup Survey of public opinion
in Arab and Muslim nations found large majorities denying that the
September ## attacks were carried out by “groups of Arabs. ” For exam-
ple, )$ percent of Kuwaitis, ‘! percent of Indonesians, and )% percent
of Pakistanis were apparently ignorant of this basic fact. A &”"& survey
conducted by the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram (&”"&) found that *$
percent of Egyptian respondents blamed the September ## attacks on
“Israeli intelligence/the Mossad, ” while only #$ percent said that “Al-
Qa’eda or other Islamic militants” were responsible.21 Both the Gallup
and Al Ahram polls were conducted well before the start of the Iraq
War, so the responses are not the products of anti-Americanism gener-
ated by that conﬂict.
First read: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_policy
Mad Cows and Ecstasy: Chance and Choice in an Evidence-Based Society by: Adrian F. M. Smith
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society), Vol. 159, No. 3. (1996), pp. 367-383, doi:10.2307/2983324
“Most of us with rationalist pretensions presumably aspire to live in a society in which decisions about matters of substance with significant potential social or personal implications are taken on the basis of the best available evidence, rather than on the basis of irrelevant evidence or no evidence at all. Of course, the nature of what constitutes evidence in any particular instance could be a matter for significant debate. But, modulo such debate, most of us have the aspiration to live in a society which is more, rather than less, ‘evidence based’.”
“In particular, there has been the growth of a movement in recent years calling itself ‘evidence-based medicine’, which perhaps has valuable lessons to offer. This movement has its antecedents in the work of people like Archibald Cochrane, who, in the 1970s, were concerned at what they saw as the disappointing level of real effectiveness of medical services, and the mismatch between the resources employed and health status outcomes achieved. Cochrane and others argued that these deficiencies were mainly attributable to the lack of systematic use of scientific method, particularly in evaluating therapeutic interventions through the use of controlled trials.
Part of what the movement is about is described as follows by its leading proponents:
‘Evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence-based medicine means integrating individual clinical experience with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research. . . . Without current best evidence, practice risks becoming rapidly out of date, to the detriment of patients’ (Sackett et al., 1996).
From a conventional statistical point of view, what does this amount to? At one level, it manifests itself in the creation of targeted databases of systematic literature reviews of statistical evidence -see, for example, Chalmers and Altman (1995) for a recent overview from a mainly statistical perspective. But this is also accompanied by a commitment to communicating findings in a readily assimilable form to relevant practitioners. One such enterprise, the Cochrane Collaboration, is an international network of individuals and institutions committed to the preparation, maintenance and dissemination of systematic reviews of the effects of health care. The aim is that
‘At the bedside or in the office, physicians should have instantaneous, up-to-date assistance from an affordable, universally available database of systematic reviews of the best evidence from clinical trials . . . data from the trials would have to be presented in a standardized, graphic, and easily comprehensible form . . . if the only information the physician received was that there was no reliable information . . . that in itself would be extraordinarily useful’ (Bero and Rennie, 1995).
But what is so special about medicine? We are, through the media, as ordinary citizens, confronted daily with controversy and debate across a whole spectrum of public policy issues. But, typically, we have no access to any form of systematic ‘evidence base’ and, therefore, no means of participating in the debate in a mature and informed manner. Obvious topical examples include education -what does work in the classroom? and penal policy what is effective in preventing reoffending? Perhaps there is an opportunity here for the Society together with appropriate allies in other learned societies and the media to launch a campaign, directed at developing analogues of the Cochrane Collaboration, to provide suitable evidence bases in other areas besides medicine, with the aim of achieving a quantal shift in the quantitative maturity of public policy debates”
“[the ignoring of rational methods to weigh probabilities (bayes' theorem) in juries] is bad enough, but the legal mentality displayed here has knock-on effects well beyond the confines of the courts. A not insignificant number of Members of Parliament are lawyers. Perhaps as a consequence, the style of debate and enquiry which characterizes much of the working of the UK Parliament and its committees stresses and rewards the mastery of an adversarial style, employed for short-term effect, rather than any long-term commitment to an evidence-based approach. The discussion of our national affairs therefore takes place in an overwhelmingly superficial and silly atmosphere, which runs counter to the more dispassionate forms of evidence gathering and assessment that should characterize a mature democracy. However, there are those e.g. in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology who seek to bring a more scientific and technical focus to bear on parliamentary debates and we should undoubtedly try to do more, as a Society, to aid and abet their efforts”
It’s a very good read!
This might also be worth reading:
ESRC UK Centre for Evidence Based Policy and Practice: Working Paper 2,
Systematic Reviews: What have they got to offer evidence based policy and practice?
Annette Boaz, Deborah Ashby, and Ken Young – Should I do a systematic review
This link was mentioned in one of the sources. Good thing i checked it out which i only did becus it surprisingly ended in the TLD .dk. However, on the site there are a few papers publicly available. It was a very, very, very good thing i went there becus of curiosity. Otherwise i might have missed the paper: Why we need easy access to all data from all clinical trials and how to accomplish it, Gøtzsche Trials 2011, 12:249
www.trialsjournal.com/content/12/1/249. Why we need easy access, Trials 2011
This is a very important paper for anyone with an interest in medicine, meta-reviews/systematic reviews, science, transparency, corruption etc. to read. I think this paper is so good that i personally wrote the author a thank-you email!
More mainstream article that mentioned the study: news.yahoo.com/people-arent-smart-enough-democracy-flourish-scientists-185601411.html
The actual paper: A Mathematical Model of Democratic Elections
Original Dunning-Kruger paper: unskilledandunaware
“Abstract: Democratic election is the preferred method for determining political administrators nowadays. The
intention is to find the best possible leader in order to improve the group’s competitiveness and success. Though
preferred, democratic election is far from being optimal in this respect, and is increasingly becoming the target
for fraud. A model was developed to scientifically analyze the present electoral system’s insufficiency. It is
based on fauceir assumptions. Its calculations enable principles to be developed that optimize the election
process, while also revealing the limits of elections in societies growing ever more complex, so that in the end
elections have to be replaced by processes similar to what has proved optimal throughout naturally occurring
evolution-natural selection.” (Abstract of the 2012 paper)
It is actually a pretty short paper (7 pages, lots of pics) that is very readable and not particularly technical (it has some standard deviation stuff, probability function, and center of gravity). It is most interesting for its theoretical ideas. The basic idea is that people can be measured, at least in principle, for their leadership abilities (called “capacity quotient”) and that those abilities will form a normal distribution just like IQ. The rational is that the idea is closely related to IQ. It is probably dubious. Most people are not interested in reading up on the various things that one needs to know to be a good leader. I think the distribution is skewed to the left, i.e., most people wud make worse than average leaders.
The next idea is that people are completely blind to differences in leadership abilities beyond their own level:
“Next, this objective spectrum is projected
subjectively into each individual’s mind, given the
empirical knowledge that an individual’s ability to gauge
an other person’s qualities ends at the very point where
their own qualities reside on the spectrum, or, in other
words, each individual is blind to differences in
capabilities better than their own. Again for simplicity, we
define a rule of distortion that, depending on one’s own
position on the spectrum, everything that is left of this
position is reflected almost correctly, while all individuals
right of one’s position on the spectrum are regarded as no
better than oneself. In physics this corresponds to a low-
pass filter (Fig. 2 and 3).”
This is based rather speculatively (and not properly recognized as being speculative) on research by Dunning and Kruger (paper in the beginning). It is correct that people are not good at recognizing skills beyond their own and tend to overestimate themselves, but they are not completely incapable. I also think that there is a reverse effect when the difference in ability between the judge and the person being judged is very large. In other words, i think that a normal person wud judge a person that was very capable of being a good leader as being a worse than average leader. This is becus average people are not familiar with the various reform ideas that a good leader wud introduce, and are probably hostile to such reform ideas. I am thinking about reform ideas such as: spelling/language reform, democracy/meritocracy/voting reform, copyright+patent laws reform, recreational drug laws reform, etc. Most of these wud be seen as ‘bad’ by average people, but not so much by much above average people. If one factored this factor into the model in some way (any Maple programmers reading this are encouraged to contact me!) then the effect on choosing better than average leaders wud be even smaller, perhaps nonexistent, or *shudder* negative! I dont know for sure without running the data.
Some of the other parts are more dubious but still cool:
“The more an individual’s capabilities are shifted to
the left of the spectrum the more convinced that
individual will be that all people are the same. This is the
objective reason why socialist sociological theories are
more deeply rooted in less-educated people. Being aware
of this fact, communist parties sought support among
blue-collar workers, whom they called the working class
(KPCC, 1961; Honecker, 1967; Ponomarev, 1970).”
From a 4chan thread:
What’s the difference between nationalism and patriotism?
l2google. Spent <5 mins on Google and found this.
Because you may not know how to do a proper search. Here is what I did:
1. Googled “difference patriotism nationalism”
2. Checked various sites looking for something reliable. failed to find that.
3. Wiki’d “nationalism” and “patriotism”. In the 2nd article, it is mentioned that it is a similar sentiment to nationalism. I check the three sources. Two of them link to SEP. SEP is a great source. I check both SEP articles. One of them has a section on the distinction between the two. Job’s done.
First, perhaps this will help some people with learning how to find things on Google. I have used search engines for many years and have internalized how I look for information, so I don’t even think about it when I do it. Others may still need to do so.
Second, there doesn’t seem to be any important conceptual difference between the two that is worth remembering. It seems better to simple ask the person what he means if one finds oneself speaking with a person who is making a distinction between the two.
Third, not very related but I love this quote.
If love is blind, patriotism has lost all five senses.