[EM] Fluffy the Dog and group strategy

Richard Moore rmoore4 at home.com
Tue Sep 11 21:52:06 PDT 2001

Dave Ketchum wrote:
> I see it differently:
>      Two bitter campaigns have fought to a draw, as shown in the counts.
>  Each of their candidates was rated acceptable by a large minority of
> voters, and UNacceptable by a majority.
>      ALL of the voters rated Fluffy as acceptable - perhaps even knowing
> that that Fluffy was a dog, but expressing their great dislike of the
> other human candidate.

Reminds me of something I wrote a couple months back. 
Someone posted an example, which if I recall was very 
similar to Fluffy. I replied that it may be impossible to 
tell from the ballots alone whether the third candidate was 
in fact a centrist who was unpopular because the electorate 
was highly polarized (and most people voted top ranking for 
*their* extremist candidate), or if he/she was the village 
idiot whose handful of close friends and family members 
provided the only top-ranking votes. So should any method 
give a different result depending on whether Fluffy is a 
centrist candidate in a population that is unwilling to 
compromise, or is indeed just a dog? How can the method make 
this distinction?

> Truly the campaigns can encourage voters to decrease their support for
> Fluffy - enough of this and Fluffy properly loses in Condorcet. 
> However, Condorcet is in the business of what the voters say, not what
> they might have said some other day.

Well said. As long as the method allows the voters to 
express their preferences honestly (and feel comfortable 
doing so), and counts those preferences in a reasonable 
manner, how can you blame the method for making the choices 
the voters (collectively) tell it to make?

This means that, for me, a good method is one that (a) 
encourages honest expression of preferences on the ballots 
(whether it allows full or partial expression is secondary) 
and (b) doesn't generate unpleasant surprises in the result. 
Condition (a) asks for FBC and perhaps a few other 
strategy-related criteria, and condition (b) asks for 
monotonicity and consistency.

That Approval satisfies both (a) and (b) makes it a very 
strong method in my book. Condorcet comes pretty darn close.


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