[EM] Re: Election-methods Digest, Vol 15, Issue 1

Warren Smith wds at math.temple.edu
Thu Sep 1 12:36:08 PDT 2005

>>--aha.  So by "median candidate" you do not mean what I thought you meant
>(namely, in an N-canddt election, the top-quality floor(N/2) are above median)
>but rather median in the prior distribution of probabilities of winning.
>But wait, that would be even more insane, since the policy of
>voting only for the candidates with above-median prior election 
>probability, would be a policy that would completely disregard the
>quality of the candidates.
My understanding of Weinstein's approval strategy is this:
"Approve your favourite (or equal favourites). If the remaining (so far 
unapproved) candidates are on more
than one of your preference-levels, then approve the candidate/s on your 
next-from-the-top  preference-level if
you consider that the probability that one of the candidates you prefer 
less than this/these candidate/s  will win
is greater than the probability that one of the candidates you prefer 
more will win.  And so on."

This strategy seems sane to me, and probably right for voters who only 
have a ranking.

Well in that case, return to my original example that started this thread, namely
your choices in order of increasing  quality are
1. Stalin
2. Hitler
3. Genghis Khan
4. Jacques Chirac
and assume prior probabilities of (1/4, 1/4, 1/4, 1/4) of
the election of each.  Then by adopting the Heitzig/Weinstein
approval voting strategy, you vote for Genghis Khan and Chirac.

By adopting the Smith Uitlity-based strategy, you vote for Chirac only.

Excellent.  Now that we are all agreed about the underlying definitions,
we are ready to consider how much damage to humanity would be caused by
adoption of the Heitzig/Weinstein approval voting strategy
based on Heitzing denying the existence of "utility".   Well,
looks like humanity  gets 50% chance of massive euro-asia-spanning-war    
and wholesale genocide, the HW way.  The Smith way, humanity gets 0% chance of
that.  I wonder how many times it would be necessary to repeat this experiment
before it dawns on Heitzig that there may actually exist such a concept as utility,
and all those Bayesians and economists that have been using this concept for the
last 100 years, may not have been doing it because they were all completely insane
and believing in silly phantasms that do not really exist. 

Since I am not a believer in conducting unethical massive experiments, I would be
happy to change the terms of the election to one which would only affect Heitzig
and no other human beings.  For example, make 1,2,3 be various extremely painful
forms of torture inflicted on Heitzig, and 4 be he gets $100.   


Utility is real, and if top decision makers fail to acknowledge that fact, it results
in immense damage to humanity.  I am not making this up, I am not saying it
because I am "highly emotional".  I am simply stating a well known fact that
has been well accepted for over 100 years.
Now my suggestion is that the rest of you simply accept this as settled and obviously true.
It then will be possible to proceed from there to have a genuine debate about voting methods.

I am not going to debate voting methods with people who refuse to accept probability theory,
believe that the sun revolves around the Earth, think Darwin is a phantasm, etc.

Warren Smith

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