[EM] David Gamble reply, 24/1/04 0815 GM

Dgamble997 at aol.com Dgamble997 at aol.com
Sat Jan 24 08:31:01 PST 2004

Mike wrote:

>The CW is the social utility maximizer.

I replied:

Not always. Please justify this statement

Mike replied in summary:

With 1 issue dimension, the CW is the SU maximizer, if disutility is 
measured by distance.

Thankyou for this clarification. Issue space in most political systems is 
principally but not entirely one-dimensional (IMHO). There can be other types of 
disutility. For example in the recent election for Governor of California 
there was probably a great deal of disutility of knowledge. Due to the number of 
candidates most voters would probably been unable to tell you the names of more 
than a handful of candidates let alone what they all stood for.

I wrote:

A common way for somebody to
promote a 'pet' electoral method is to do the following:

1/ Find a set of criteria that your system meets and state them.

2/ Dismiss the criteria your method doesn't meet as irrelevant or even 
just don't mention them

Mike replied:

During the time that EM has been in existence, we've had to answer this 
abyssmal ignorance many times. There should be a FAQ with answers to all the 
stupid questions like that. Or else David should check the archives better 
before presuming to tell us how it is.

David apparently is using his ESP here.  Because, without ESP, how does 
David know that someone started by choosing a method, and then searched 
around for criteria that the method would meet.

I reply:

A way people often come to advocate or like a thing is like this. They look 
at something superfically think "this is a good idea" and agree with it. They 
then examine their decision in more detail and look for strong reasons to 
justify their choice. Sometimes people change their minds. Many people on the EM 
list originally thought IRV was a good idea but on later consideration switched 
to either supporting Approval or Condorcet. The initial opinion often comes 
before the detailed knowledge and may change as a result of gaining that 

As regards the criteria to which to evaluate elections methods by at 
electionmethods.org we have the following:


Two Condorcet criteria, which surprise, surprise only Condorcet meets.

Five strategy criteria (SFC, GSFC, SDSC, WDSC,FBC). One of which (FBC) 
Condorcet gets a  question mark in the criteria compliance grid when it is stated in 
the text explaining the criterion that it does in fact fail (in rare 

Also it is worth pointing out that only one effective strategy is needed to 
manipulate an election method if offensive burial is effective (as it is in WV 
Condorcet methods) second,third,fourth and fifth strategies are unnecessary. 
If you have one strategy that will throw the election you have need of no 

Finally we have the summability criterion which isn't a proper election 
method evaluation criterion at all. In the context of British General elections in 
which all the ballot boxes are transported to a single central location to be 
counted it looks pretty irrelevant. It is also worthy noting that Australia 
managed to conduct IRV elections in 1919 over some very large and sparsely 
inhabited constituencies when communication technology was considerably poorer than 
today. This is a criterion to do with different electoral administration 
arrangements in different countries, it is not a valid criteria to assess an 
election method against.

Where is latter-no-harm, what about participation?

A longer and more objective set of criteria used to be found at Blake 
Cretney's Condorcet.org ( which appears to have vanished).

Mike Wrote:

So perhaps you'd be so good as to give us an example of someone making their 
criteria sound as good as possible, and really building them up, by saying 
something that you can show to be unjustified.

Or is it also bad to discuss a criterion's value even what one says is 

electionmethods.org provides an example of making your preferred method look 
as good as possible by failed to mention criteria it doesn't meet.

I wrote:

4/ Describe your selection of criteria as 'objective' ones that have been
selected by 'experts'

Mike replied:

Again, who has said that their preferred criteria are the objective ones 
that have been selected  by experts?

I quote from electionmethods.org

"The Election Methods Education and Research Group (EMERG) was founded by 
Russ Paielli and Mike Ossipoff. Mike is an expert on election methods"

I appears that you did!!!!!!!

"EMERG is anon-partisan organisation. We believe that election methods should 
be evaluated objectively and mathematically, without regard to which 
political parties or ideologies might benefit."

Though not objectively against a complete set of criteria it appears.

"The choice of an election method should not be based on subjective notions"

" It should be based, rather, on set of strictly objective technical criteria

Again a partial selection of criteria based on subjective notions about what 
you consider important is not in my opinion the selection of an election 
method based on strictly objective technical criteria.

Finally Mike said:

David, yoiur participation is making this mailing list have to act as an 
elementary school. It would be better if you would start reading through the 
list's archives, so that you wouldn't repeat elementary questions that have 
been answered many times in the archives.

I reply:

As regards the kind of behaviour you might find in an elementary school 
remember the Floyd Algorithm.

David Gamble

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