Blake takes the low road

Tue Apr 17 23:49:16 PDT 2001

Blake wrote:

>Blake's comments above are a good example of his tendency to
>an individual as part of an effort to discredit a proposal that is
>different from his proposal. I'm sorry that Blake wanted to drag
>the level of these discussions down to his level in that way.

By bringing the debate to my level of personal criticism, do you mean
my claim that you usually write lengthy responses, and that these tend
to include many specious arguments, and that I can't be bothered to
respond to them all?

I reply:

I don't know--is that what I said? I thought I said that I was
referring mostly to your implication that whatever crap your
economists say is more valid than what I say because they have
more mathematical training.

Actually I've been keeping my replies brief, partly because of time
constraints. My replies tend to be no longer than the message I'm
replying to. For instance, my recent reply to Markus is as brief as
his letter. My replies to you are longer because your messages are
so much longer. You write longer replies than I do.

Specious arguments? Your arguments sometimes haven't held up, and so
does that qualify them for specious? Which recent arguments of
mine are specious? Your use of "specious" is a sloppy nonspecific
usage that belongs to the category "angry noises".

One recent claim of mine that was probably incorrect was when I said
that the brief Ranked-Pairs definition in your signature isn't
complete and is like saying to repeatedly drop the weakest defeat that's
in a cycle, till there are no cycles. It later occurred to me that
that definition is worded so that, contrary to my first impression,
it isn't just saying to minimize the magnitude of defeats dropped.

Blake continues:

That's really more an attack on your arguments
than your character.

I reply:

I don't recall complaining about that particular claim of yours.
In fact I didn't even reply to it, except to say that you haven't
replied to any of the arguments, and that I only have 2 arguments
for wv vs m. And that, of those 2, the criteria argument is
the more important. Nor is that a long argument. I merely refer
people to the website  where they
can find the criteria because of which I claim that wv is better than
margins. That isn't a long argument. Your posts are long. I dread
dealing with them, because due to their length it always takes a long
time to answer them. For that reason I'm sorry that you've gotten
started like this.

Blake continues:

I also remarked that all things being equal it is good to have a
method that is better studied, and that despite your problem with
academics, at least we know that they have mathematical training.

I reply:

All else isn't equal, if we're talking about margins methods.
But the wv methods have been studied and discussed here since the
inception of this list.

Oh, but you mean studied by your authorities. So those individuals
can make a class of voting systems less worth considering merely
by failing to study it? That's why I say that you're too loyal
to those whom you regard as authority. I'm sorry, but I
let someone else's choice of what to study determine what's worth
considering. You're loyal to your professors, and that's nice. And
if you want to let their choice of what to write about in their
journals determine for you what's respectable, that's fine. But
I'm saying that that admirable loyalty of yours may not make sense
to others.

You say that at least we know that they have mathematical training.
So what? For that to have relevance to the discussion, you must
mean that they have mathematical training and the 5 advocates of
wv methods don't have mathematical training, and that, additionally,
their lack of mathematical training has caused them to miss a
mathematical reason why the voting systems written about by academics
are better than theirs.

Blake continues:

think you took this as a personal attack on your level of mathematical
ability, which wasn't my intent.

I reply:

Sure it was.

It would be meaningless to say "At least economists have mathematical
training" unless you're saying that someone else doesn't have
mathematical training. It means "At least economists have mathematical
training, unlike the person I'm disagreeing with."

That's why I asked you how you think that more mathematical training
reveals faults with my criteria for comparing voting systems.

Personal attack, yes, but not a new behavior from you.

And you need to look at your inclination to automatically believe
anyone who is an academic economist. The choice of standards by which
to compare voting systems isn't mathematical. I don't care how
much mathematical training they have. Unlike you, I'm not going
to obediently adopt someone's standards merely because they're
a university economist with lots of mathematical training.

Sometimes mathematicians study things only of interest to them, and
that's fine.  The problem is when people like you believe that only
what mathematicians study has validity. The things that concern
voters aren't the things that academic voting system authors write
about. You feel a need to adopt their standards, and I prefer the
standards important to voters.

Blake continues:

I was simply pointing out that
trained economists have some value.

I reply:

I never said none of them have any value. I think that Weber
& Myerson have great value. Your problem is your uncritical
fauning loyalty to the overall academic writing, to the point
where any method that they don't write about is somehow less valid.

Trained economists have too much value for you.

>This poll has had the unintended effect of bringing out the worst
>in someone whose worst is none too good. I'm glad that Blake takes
>the poll seriously. I'm sorry that as a result he displays the worst
>of his character.

It's ironic that you would accuse someone of making personal attacks.
In the following I have some quotes from you addressed to another
member of the list.  The member had engaged in a prolonged argument
with you, and so, was inevitibly subjected to personal attacks and

I should have known that you'd resort to quotes from past discussions.
It's much better to let past discussions alone, because by reposting
old e-mail you might get others to restart the arguments.

>A muck-raker once said "Follow the money", and so please allow
>me to point out that it's academics who tout Copeland's method,
>their employers, universities, and research grants, tend to be
>receive grants from foundations paid-into by rich families.
>Guess what? The 2 sentences before this one have a word in
>common: Rich.

Sure, and it's true. Or do you think it isn't true? What's your point?
That's another reason why it's regrettable that you're so
brown-nose loyal to academia.

Blake continues:

>Another thing: Bruce, is it true that you're employed by
>the Institute for Defense Analysis, and that the Institute
>for Defense Analysis is associated with the Defense Department?
>No doubt we've all heard about the ways in which the Pentagon
>has made a reputation as a defender of democracy around the
>world  :-)

I find the idea that academics propose Copeland as part of some plan
by the rich to subvert democracy to be paranoid to the point of being
out of touch with reality.

I reply:

You need to take another look at my paragraph that you quoted above.
In that paragraph I didn't assert one way or the other on that issue.
I merely said "Follow the money". That's an old expression; I didn't
invent it.

All I said was that a muckraker said "Follow the money", and then
I pointed out that research grants, and the universities that
employ your professors, receive money from foundations that get
their money from rich families.

Is that paranoid? Actually it's true, isn't it. Or are you saying
that it isn't true? So draw your own conclusions from it.

Maybe it isn't like
that in your country. But you're more than a little presumptuous to
tell me how things are in my country. With international mailing lists
there will be some people who forget that they can't assume that
what they know about their country doesn't apply everywhere.

If I can quote a professor too, the MIT professor Noam Chomsky has
discussed these matters at great length. Chomsky is a famous
linguist, and is equally famous as a lecturer & author who makes
the kind of assertions that you'd call paranoid. But he doesn't
just assert them. He cites memos, etc.

There are internal organizational memoranda that spell out, for
instance, the importance of maintaining control of higher education.
If you don't believe it, ask Chomsky for his references. The
mechanism of that control is spelled out in writings by a number
of reliable authors. Again, the simple but dependable rule is
"Follow the money".

That makes your voting system academics somewhat less reliable than
you seem to consider them. No I don't have proof, and I'm not
saying that someone actually said: "Our foundation will give you grant
money if you do your part to obfuscate progress in areas that could
lead to better democracy". I wouldn't rule that out, but of course
it often doesn't work that way. For instance in journalism the
hiring & firing policies make it clear what's ok to print or say
and what isn't. That's common knowledge, with examples all the time.

Again, the enmity between big money and democracy isn't a paranoid
notion that I came up with. That's likewise very well documented by
the authors that I mention in this e-mail, and lots of others.

Based on that, and the known chain-of-command between foundation-donors
and professors, I'd say that casts some doubt on the reliability
of your professors as seekers for better democracy.

It isn't just Chomsky. There are fairly many equally credentialled
authors who make the same statements, and document them well.
For instance another example is G. William Domhoff, also a university
professor. No, I'm not saying, like you, that anyone who is a professor
is right. But these guys have sources to back up their statements.
Another example is historians such as Michael Parenti & Howard Zinn.

So, though I didn't say that money could influence people to whom
money is given (say it ain't so, Mike!), yes I consider it a strong
possibility. And, as I said, it isn't just me.

I understand that you might not have read on the subject, and that's
fine. But the reason why I call you ignorant is that you're so
quick to make assertions and engage in namecalling on a subject
on which you haven't read.

Blake continues:

Then you go on to imply that the list
member is antagonistic to democracy, as a natural result of being
indirectly employed by the defense department.

I reply:

Now where would anyone get the idea that that would be possible? :-)

Blake continues:

These statements were so bizarre

I reply:

Excuse me, but were my statements incorrect? Wasn't Bruce employed
by the employer that I said he was? Is that employer noted for
its love of democracy?  What's bizarre or untrue about those 2

Blake continues:

that you were generally criticized.
Here's your response to the list owner:

>First, it's your list, of course, & so I'll be nice.
>I've already made my point, & there's no need to say more
>about it, except in answer to your letter.
>There's no reason to regard my letter as an attack. It was
>a discussion of the relevant question of the reason why certain things were 
>being said. Not an attack--a search
>for explanations.
>As for insinuation, if there's anything necessary that I left
>unsaid, let me know. Insinuation & inuendo are used by people
>who can't back up what they say, and so they don't say it, and
>instead they just imply it. If I implied anything instead of
>saying it, it was only for brevity. I welcome anyone to question
>any fact that I said or implied, & I'd be glad to answer questions.

I reply:

As I said, it wasn't an attack, but merely a search for explanations.

And on the same subject:

>It has beem my opinion, and this is only my opinion, that
>there seems to be a lack of sincerity on the part of
>another member, Bruce. My purpose here isn't to repeaat the
>accusations; it's just that I find this to be discouraging,
>& a reminder of the fact that there will be much paid
>opposition in the way of any genuine electoral reform. Discouraging, & a 
>little scary, to tell the truth. If
>the changing-hands of money can induce someone to lie, and
>if one observes that phenomenon, that serves to demonstrate
>what reformers are up-against. All the money is on the other
>side. I find dishonesty to be scary, especially if money
>is involved in inducing that dishonesty.

I reply:

I was explaining my discouragement that led me to leave the list
at that time. It wasn't meant as an attack, but merely an explanation
for why found the situation discouraging.

If you're saying that I was incorrect in that opinion about Bruce,
then what do you want me to do, lengthen this discussion with
all the reasons that led me to have that feeling?

Blake continues:

There are plenty of other examples of you flaming list members.  For
example, Markus, who is amazingly tolerant.  You even attacked Norm,
who almost always agrees with you about everything.  And, of course,
those aren't the only ones.  I could provide plenty more quotes.  It's
just your debating style to personally attack your opponents.

I reply:

For one thing, that wasn't flaiming. It was a search for an explanation
, and your other quote was an explanation for why I was discouraged
by preceding discussion.

For another thing, Markus had been exhibiting some of Don Davison's
traits, repeating arguments that I'd questioned, instead of answering
my simple question. On one occasion that was about his claim that
it isn't true that the usual Condorcet Criterion definitions are
either met by Plurality, or by nothing.  To bring that out, I'd
asked about his Beatpath GMC in that regard. He started describing
a new way of applying criteria, and I asked him if, thereby,
Plurality meets Beatpath GMC & Condorcet's Criterion. No answer.
I asked him if he uses different rules for applying criteria to
different methods. No answer, just repetition of the arguments that
I'd questioned.

And before that, it was about his attempts to find fault with
some of my & Steve's criteria. I admit that I became impatient with
his fallacious arguments, his claims that WDSC is ambiguous, when
the only ambiguity was in Markus's notion of what it means to pass
a criterion.

Yeah I was impatient on those occasions.

Norm & I agreed on most everything, except that he preferred 
BeatpathWinner's wording and I preferred Cloneproof SSD's wording.
They're equivalent. But I began to wonder if Norm wasn't being
intentionally misleading, since he had no trouble understanding
my brief inexplicit definition of ordinary SSD, but said he
didn't understand the same kind of definition of Cloneproof SSD,
even though they differ only in their stopping rule.

I'd always gotten along fine with Norm, and I was surprised and
disappointed by that incident.

By the way, I now use more explicit definitions for SSS & CSSD.

Mike Ossipoff

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