[EM] Sticks-in-the-mud

Adam Tarr atarr at purdue.edu
Fri Aug 13 16:04:33 PDT 2004

> > >For the voter action is the same as for STV. The votes are counted
> > >differently, however, with the successive exclusion of least popular
> > >pair-wise combinations,
> >
> > This betrays an ignorance to the nature of Condorcet methods.  I assume
> > this is a somewhat garbled description of sequential dropping.  Not only
> > are they ignoring other methods such as Ranked Pairs, but they are ignoring
> > the more fundamental formation of a pairwise matrix, and determination of
> > whether a Condorcet winner exists.
>I did explain this to them; however, as stated above, I'd have needed months
>to explain stuff. CpSSD was what I proposed as resolution should one end up
>having a cycle.

In my opinion, the key to presenting Condorcet to the relatively 
mathematically illiterate is to simplify things to the point of almost 
completely ignoring the cyclic ambiguity.  Present the method as if this 
never happens, and add an appendix that mentions the nitty-gritty.

"Using the ranked ballots of the voters, we can simulate a one-on-one 
election between every pair of candidates.  The candidate that wins every 
one of his/her/its one-on-one contests is the winner.*

* blah blah circular ambiguity resolution blah..."

That sort of thing.

> > >and that Condorcet is particularly useful in voting on policy matters
> > >where it is desirable that the result should be one of broad consensus,
> > >rather than of representing the largest single body of opinion.
> >
> > They keep saying this.  It remains a terribly ignorant statement.  STV does
> > not reliably represent the "largest single body of opinion".  If that is
> > really what they want, they want plurality.
>I fear this is somewhat my fault.  I was arguing against IRV here.  I may
>not have worded my statements appropriately.  If you read my PDF file,
>perhaps you could be kind enough to tell me what I ought to have said instead?
>(It will come up for public debate this autumn).

I don't think anything you said was really inaccurate, but the second 
paragraph in 2.2 is a bit confusing to the layman.  I think they 
misinterpreted this to imply that IRV can "have as wide a range of views 
represented as possible".  I would just leave that first sentence out.

Really, I can't figure out where they for that idea from - I don't see 
where you ever say it.  Maybe they somehow drew this from your comments in 
the appendix?

>Given that I'm maybe one of three people in a community of 15000 who really
>understands ... (and was the only one of those three to stand up to be counted
>at this point in time)
>... yeah, I'm unimpressed.

I think the key is to tailor the message to the audience.  I have a friend 
who is a computer scientist, and I recently brought him from complete 
ignorance about voting methods, to a seemingly perfect grasp of both Ranked 
Pairs and SSD, within a space of about two minutes.  But this is because I 
was able to say things like "now, imagine every candidate is a node in a 
directed graph" and get a quick nod in response.  Something tells me that 
won't work with your audience.

As I said above, for folks like this, you really want to work on the two 
sentence explanation.  Three sentences is pushing it.

For someone willing to spend a bit more time, I think the sort of argument 
put forth on Ernie's website is great for the somewhat intelligent, but not 
necessarily mathematically inclined layman:


For those more interested in the "how" than the "why" I like this sort of 


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