[EM] Some brief campaign argument

Blake Cretney bcretney at postmark.net
Sat Apr 14 09:55:21 PDT 2001

Here are my brief campaign arguments.  I hope that people take this
election seriously.  As possibly the only list that discusses these
methods, we can have an influence.  Not a tremendous influence; I
don't imagine governments paying close attention to what we decide. 
But an influence nevertheless.

The hope behind this list, as I understand it, is to give a place for
the careful study of election methods.  This list should have the
effect of raising the general level of education in this regard.  As a
Condorcet advocate, I think this is a good thing, because I think that
if more people new more about voting methods, Condorcet and Ranked
Pairs would be more popular.

This list has had problems in the past.  For example, the whole issue
of the misinterpretation of Condorcet's words.  As far as I can tell,
the claim of Condorcet's method using Mike's "defeat-support" was
generally spread by this list.  You still see this on a few web pages.
 The important lesson here, is that you shouldn't believe everything
you read on this list, and this list can have an effect (although not
necessarily a positive one).

Realizing that Condorcet specified margins puts Mike's
"defeat-support" in a new light.  It suggests that since it is so new,
and peculiar to this list, it really is possible that we might rid
ourselves of it.  I expect that 20 years from now, people will still
be talking about Condorcet, but will have forgotten about
"defeat-support".  That would be a good thing, because having so many
Condorcet completion methods weakens the cause in general.  By voting
resoundingly against "defeat-support" we can help speed it to

Of course, Mike claims that "defeat-support" is actually superior to
margins.  I expect him to give voluminous accounts of why this is. 
Please tell me if you find any of it convincing.  I can't possibly
respond to every argument Mike makes, but I suspect that I can respond
to those people find sensible.  You can get an overview of the issue
from my perspective at:

Putting aside the issue of margins vs. "defeat-support", I think there
are good reasons to choose Ranked Pairs over the other Condorcet
contenders.  Here are some of the main ones.

1.  Simplicity.  The method is simpler and more straight-forward than
most of the other Condorcet completion methods.

2.  Quality.  The method is just good!  Some of these other methods
(like Mike's SD method), you basically have to say, I know this method
has problems, but I don't view them as too serious.  You have to say,
there's a better method, but I don't think you're smart enough to
understand it.  That's a real defect if you want to actually sell
people on the method.

As well, some of these methods can only be justified by quite peculiar
reasoning.  For example, last I read, Mike was claiming that Ranked
Pairs might find the best over-all ranking, but SSD finds the best
winner.  But what kind of a best ranking do you have if the best
winner isn't at the top?  If we only wanted to rank half the
candidates, would we expect to use yet another method?  That's the
kind of reasoning that SSD is based on.  Do we want to have to sell
this off the list?

3.  Pedigree.  Of the Condorcet completion methods listed, only Ranked
Pairs has been written up in academic publications (PC is arguable). 
Mike has nothing but contempt for academics, but at least economists
have some training in math.  The fact is that Ranked Pairs is better
established, and has been better studied than any of the other
Condorcet completion methods.  Some people don't see much difference
between Condorcet completion methods, and in this case, it makes sense
to go with a published method.  

Of course, Ranked Pairs has a disadvantage on this list, because
unlike most other methods, Ranked Pairs' inventor isn't a list member,
and so won't be voting ;-) 

This election is a real opportunity.  I hope that people take it upon
themselves to get informed.  If you have any questions, email me, or
post to the list.

Blake Cretney   http://www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/harrow/124/path

Ranked Pairs gives the ranking of the options that always reflects 
the majority preference between any two options, except in order to
reflect majority preferences with greater margins. 
(B. T. Zavist & T. Tideman, "Complete independence  of clones in the 
ranked pairs rule", Social choice and welfare, vol 6, 167-173, 1989)

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