[EM] Hello, a Question, and an Idea

Narins, Josh josh.narins at lehman.com
Thu Mar 7 06:49:14 PST 2002

Hello everybody. I'm Josh, I, as a hobby, am very interested in voting

Has everyone seen Episode 11 and 12 of the Annenberg/CPB math educational
series "For All Practical Purposes" ? Episodes 11 through 15 are about
"Social Choice" and 12, specifically, is about voting methods. It's a little
too low budget for prime time, but, it's got a great presentation level for
anyone who's at least finished high school and is willing to pay attention,
and is not so dumbed down to be insulting to someone trained in the art. The
main example of the show is about a 5 way primary race for an imaginary
party. They use Plurality, Plurality with Runoff, Sequential Runoff Voting,
Borda and Condorcet. They also hand pick an interesting result, in that a
different of each of the 5 candidates wins with each different method. There
are interview segments with Kenneth Arrow at the end of the tape, where he
explains that his theorem does not say that there are no better methods,
just that there is no perfect method. He compares this to engine efficiency.
They've proved it's impossible to have 100% efficient engine, but not that
you can't have a better engine.

My idea is we vote on the best election method. We first vote on what voting
method we use to to count the results of our vote to choose the best
election method. To find out which method we use to count the resulsts of
our vote to find the best method of counting the votes for our vote to find
the best voting method, we hold a vote. We can continue like this for hours,
but, I'm sure we all have better things to do.


P.S. As dictator for life, I consider this a strictly abstract exercise. :)

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