[EM] pairwise, fairness, and information content

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Fri Aug 16 08:06:42 PDT 2002


First, in answer to your question, yes I am studying physics.  Second,
perhaps I don't possess your technical sophistication in the study of
election methods.  Nonetheless, as a scientist I try to maintain at least
some familiarity with other sciences that interest me.

As for your disdain for any sort of simplified discussion:

I once enrolled in a class taught by a man who later won the Nobel Prize
in Chemistry.  What impressed me most was that he took a topic that is
very, very, very, very, very....very, very, very, highly technical, and
understood the core concepts sufficiently well to explain them in terms
that college sophomores in science or engineering could understand.  It
was a graduate class for scientists with very diverse academic backgrounds
(physics, chemistry, and engineering were all represented).  After this
basic grounding he of course moved on to more advanced, cutting-edge
phenomena (it was, after all, a graduate class) but that basic grounding
served all of us well, and didn't really lead to any misunderstandings.

In other words, one mark of genius is the ability to take highly advanced
matters and explain them in simplified terms.  It shows an understanding
of what is essential and what is not essential.  There is nothing to be
disdained about a "layman's discussion."

Just some food for thought.  I look forward to some day reading a clear
and informal description of how you think we should select a single winner
from a set of two candidates.

Alex Small

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