[EM] What Mike can teach us

Dgamble997 at aol.com Dgamble997 at aol.com
Tue Jan 27 03:25:03 PST 2004

There is one area in which I will acknowledge that Mike is Indeed an "expert" 
that of the partial presentation of facts combined with the use of certain 
rhetorical techniques to create a misleading impression that he is right.

Right let's see what he's come up with today.

I wrote:

For example in the recent election for Governor of California
there was probably a great deal of disutility of knowledge.

Mike replied:

What's that??

You mean you don't know, people might stop telling you you're an expert.
( look I am learning, I'm using one of your put-down techniques)

I explained:

Due to the number of
candidates most voters would probably been unable to tell you the names of 
than a handful of candidates let alone what they all stood for.

Mike replied:

That isn't the same as saying that the only candidate near the voter median 
will be an unknown.
Known candidates will compte there too, and some of those will be sincere in 
their advocacy of voter median positions.

No Mike you misunderstood me, I said that unknown candidates can quite 
possibly end up near the voter median by virtue of being unknown. I do not like you, 
I do not hate, I do not know you therefore I rank you somewhere near the 
middle you are preferable to those I dislike but worse than those I agree with.

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.

(Note Mike's skilfully placed insults.)

I  replied:

A way people often come to advocate or like a thing is like this. They look
at something superficially think "this is a good idea" and agree with it.

then examine their decision in more detail and look for strong reasons to
justify their choice.

Mike replied:

ESP again? Or did someone tell you that that's what they do? If so, then who 
told you that they do that?

I continued:

Sometimes people change their minds. Many people on the EM
list originally thought IRV was a good idea but on later consideration 
to either supporting Approval or Condorcet. The initial opinion often comes
before the detailed knowledge and may change as a result of gaining that

Mike replied:

Another amazing discovery by David. But it isn't quite clear how you can 
tell when someone is misrepresenting their reason for liking a method. Are 
you the arbiter of that

I reply finally:

No not another amazing discovery merely me stating the obvious. I like 
stating the obvious as a technique it makes it clear exactly what you mean. After 
all if nobody understands what you're saying it pointless saying it. And many 
people don't have the time to wade through the archives looking for a certain 
previous post.

What came first Mike your understanding ( and liking) of Condorcet type 
methods or some of the criteria on your website. I do recall that in a previous 
post you told me that you had written some of them. I would guess it was a 
synergetic process your liking for Condorcet type methods led to your development of 
some of your "objective" criteria and the "objective" criteria you 
discovered/wrote reinforced your liking of Condorcet type systems.

I am claim to be an arbiter of nothing, I merely have an opinion and state 

I wrote:

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

Mike replied:

So now are you also saying that Condorcet first decided that he liked his
method, and then contrived a criterion that it would meet? I suggest that
all that deviousness is in your mind.

Mike that would be ridiculous, Condorcet invented his method 200 years ago 
and it was given his name after its invention , as regards any deviousness on my 
part well, I am being taught by an expert. 

Right now onto the criteria you discovered( or contrived or made up, hey I'm 
improving at this insult thing) :

Five strategy criteria (SFC, GSFC, SDSC, WDSC,FBC).

Mike writes:

Apparently David believes that each criterion is for a different offensive
strategy :-)

David, it's a good thing for strategists that only one offensive strategy is
necessary, because only one is available in wv Condorcet.

I reply:

If each criteria is not for a different strategy surely some of your criteria 
must be repetitions or least very similar. Why not have just one strategy 
criteria- something like "the method must be immune to strategic manipulation" 
(more cleverly worded of course).

You continued:

I've said many time, but apparently must again repeat, that, though IRV
doesn't have offensive order-reversal, it requires, without any offensive
strategy being done, a much more drastic defensive strategy than Condorcet
wv does. IRV will make the need for defensive favorite-burial. That need
happens without anyone using offensive strategy. That's the mark of a really
poor method. IRV and Plurality have that in common.

At worst, in a really devious electorate, where there are many who'd like to
do offensive order-reversal, Condorcet then begins to have a strategy
problem. But that strategy problem isn't like IRV's strategy problem. IRV
requires defensive favorite-burial. But offensive order-reversal can be
deterred by mere defensive truncation.

I reply:

How important strategy criteria are depends on whether the voters use 
strategy and to what extent they use strategy. I've spent years encouraging voters to 
use the very simple strategy of vote for the candidate of the party most 
likely to defeat the Conservative. With some people who aren't very politically 
minded and some who are  it can, for a whole variety of reasons ( foremost 
amongst them a desire to vote sincerely) be an uphill struggle.

I wrote:

Finally we have the summability criterion which isn't a proper election
method evaluation criterion at all.

Mike replied:

I guess David isn't going to let us in on how he knows that.
( I think you're overdoing the sarcasm Mike)

Mike partially quoted me as saying:

In the context of British General elections in
which all the ballot boxes are transported to a single central location to
counted it looks pretty irrelevant.

and then continued:

David, it isn't entirely clear how the transportation of ballot boxes makes
the Summability Criterion irrrelevant. Did you think that the problem with
non-summable methods is the infeasibility of carrying the ballots to the
central counting location? :-)

I reply:

Mike you're slipping. Let's quote part of your criterion back to you in case 
you'vre forgotten it

"Under IRV, therefore, every individual vote (rank list) must be available at 
a central location to determine the winner. In a major public election, that 
could be millions or even tens of millions of votes. The votes cannot be 
compressed by summing as in other election methods because votes may need to be 
transferred according to which candidates are eliminated in each round"

I reply: 

That is in essence what I said and what you appear to be saying. The 
information must be transmitted to a central point. One means of doing this is 
physically transported the ballot boxes. Whatever the electoral administration 
arrangements their is scope for fraud. Current elections to the Australian Senate 
(under STV) involve millions of votes information about which is required to be 
transmitted to a central location. Are you saying these elections are 
fraudulently conducted? In France local counting has always been used but this did not 
prevent in a 1973 election in Bastia (Corsica) the 165 inhabitants of a small 
village apparently casting 6122 votes.

I wrote:

It is also worth noting that Australia
managed to conduct IRV elections in 1919 over some very large and sparsely
inhabited constituencies

Mike replied:

Yes, low voter population definitely helps IRV

I reply:

Mike, read the statement carefully, by large and sparsely populated I mean 
the constituency was geographically big, not that the number of voters was 
small. If it could be done with the technology available eighty years ago it can 
definitely be done today.

I wrote:

it ( the summability criterion) is not a valid criteria to assess an election 
method against

Mike went on (and on):

Dave, "criteria" is a plural. The singular is "Criterion".

You make a lot of statements that you don't suport because you can't

I reply:

People who live in glass houses should really not throw stones. One of your 
rhetorical techniques is to mock and highlight unintentional errors of grammar 
and spelling you should really read your posts before you send them. Mike, by 
the technique of partial presentation of information you are expert at 
creating a distorted and misleading impression of the truth.

I wrote:

Where is latter-no-harm?

Mike replied:

I refer you to my posting entitled "Woodall's Whacky, Zany Criteria".

I reply:

Mike this really will not do. Many people ( I gather though looking through 
copies of Voting Matters and from other sources ) not just Woodall consider 
this is to be a very important criterion.

Mike went on:

I make no secret of the fact that Condorcet (like IRV & all rank methods
except Borda) doesn't pass Participation. 

I reply: 

You do by ommision if you don't mention it.

Mike went on:

We're not obligated to list every criterion. Websites put up what the owner
considers important. It would be prohibitively cluttering and confusing to
readers if we listed every criterioni that we don't consider as important.

I reply: 

Criterioni is that a pasta ? 

Mike, you website gives the impression that it is an objective evaluation of 
election methods. I have not objection to people advocating a certain system, 
that is their right but to pass it off as impartial, balanced and objective 
when it is not is something I find really annoying. Take Blake Cretney's 
Condorcet.org it says it straight away I am advocating a system based on the ideas of 
Condorcet. Take Marcus's paper I am advocating (and describing the properties 
both good and bad) of a system I devised called Schulze. 

Mike finished (finally) with:

The person who can't make his case on the merits of facts about the topic,
will often do what David is doing: Speculate about the motives of others.
Theorize that they're misrespresenting their reasons for their advocacy. And
now, though David's point here isn't at all clear, he seems to be finding
fault with Russ's reference to me as an expert.

I'll tell you one thing for sure, Dave: Someone like you isn't qualified to
discuss whether or not I'm an expert.

If an expert is someone from whom you need to learn, then yes Dave, to you
I'm an expert.

I reply:

Quite honestly I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Mike's ego seems to know 
no bounds. How can somebody say something like that? One person, one vote, 
when it comes down to it in the end my opinion is as valid as any other.

Mike's statement that

 "The person who can't make his case on the merits of facts about the topic,
will often do what David is doing: Speculate about the motives of others.
Theorize that they're misrespresenting their reasons for their advocacy." 

is indeed true. That is not what I am doing though, I am saying the facts are 
partial and incomplete, I am saying beware those who produce material that 
bends over backwards to create an impression of objectivity. This is another 
very good effective technique used by people who lack the confidence to make 
their case on the merits of the facts about the topic.

So what has Mike taught us? How to use clever insults to create an effect, 
how by omission,  the use of cleverly worded statements and spurious claims of 
objectivity to create a biased and partial impression. If I am crawling in the 
mud you taught me by example how to do it. Looking at your posts to me and 
other people I wonder does Mike teach us anything of value. What if every poster 
to The EM list used Mike's  rhetorical techniques  (which I am attempting to 
copy in this post). It would be more a matter of who can write the cleverest 
insult or put-down rather than a discussion of electoral methods.

David Gamble


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