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

Abd ulRahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri Sep 2 12:04:11 PDT 2005

At 03:36 PM 9/1/2005, Warren Smith wrote:
>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.

Mr. Smith, this post indicates to me that you are not at this time 
capable of leading an election reform movement, which takes people 
skills, and an inclination to use them, *plus* an ability to listen 
to criticisms and either accept it or defuse it.

Accordingly, I am deciding not to waste my time with CRV (Mr. Smith's 
organization). I will instead devote my efforts to general election 
reform. This does not mean, at all, that I do not support Range 
Voting. I do, provided that the implementation is appropriate, and, 
indeed, if it is not appropriate, the results could be disastrous. 
The devil is in the details.

Were this the only indication, I would pass it off as you having a 
bad day. But it is not, it is persistent.

>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.

Mr. Smith, you are highly tenacious with regard to your ideas and 
analysis. You have not asked me for a personal analysis, but I will 
summarize one: you do not know yourself and your own limitations. I 
was in a similar situation at one time; as they say, it takes one to 
know one. Indeed, I might be there now, except for one thing: I know 
that there are aspects of myself that I don't know. So when somebody 
calls me on one of them, I have learned to set aside my inclination 
to deny it, and at least give the idea some breathing space.

One thing that is clear to me. There is little hope for the 
promulgation of my ideas unless one of two things happens: (1) 
someone else picks up on them and begins to promote them, either 
together with me or independently, or (2) I learn how to communicate better.

It often happens that I mention my plan to "Save the World," when 
talking with people in person. It came up day before yesterday, in 
fact, with a woman whom I had know distantly for several years, but 
actually talked with for the first time. It seemed she was interested 
(and I still think she was, in fact), so I started to explain. After 
perhaps ten minutes, she said "I notice that there is no room for me 
in this discussion." Not an exact quote, and it does not convey what 
the body language conveyed: she was angry. I immediately responded, 
"Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I'm so sorry, I get enthusiastic about 
this stuff and I don't get to talk about it directly with people all 
that much." And it seems that the day was saved, and we continued to 
talk and discovered a great deal of common background: among other 
things, she was intimately familiar with the 12 Traditions of AA, 
which is fairly unusual even for AA or Al-Anon members. So she 
already has about half of what is needed for her to know to 
understand the Beyond Politics concepts. Our conversation was 
interrupted, but presumably it will continue at some time.

>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.

What is obviously true to you may not be obvious to others, indeed, 
it *might* be obvious to them that it is *not* true. So which one is 
right? You pretend that it is not you they are arguing with, but they 
are arguing with "the truth." I've heard that one before, indeed, I 
hear it quite frequently. This is how people like those in the 
movement that spawned Osama Bin Laden talk. They are *certain* about 
what they believe.

But they are not, in fact, "believers." Rather, they are certain 
about certain ideas which they have substituted for Truth, which is, 
in fact, quite equivalent to God (in Arabic this is actually obvious, 
but all too often overlooked). In the end, what they believe in is 
their own ideas. Quite the same as many of us, perhaps most. True 
"believers" as I have come to understand, are humble with respect to 
their own beliefs and analyses; rather they understand that absolute 
truth is generally not approachable by human beings. And this is a 
huge question that I will truncate here.

>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.

Instead of debating with people, when they raise an objection to what 
you are saying, try to lay it out (not just for them, but for anyone 
else who might be so "foolish" as to believe as they do), in detail, 
*exactly* why what they have said is not true, or why they should 
accept what you say.

As far as I have seen, you have left out critical steps. Either you 
have failed to notice this, or you consider those steps so obvious 
that you don't need to explain them. I've asked, for quite some time 
now, for an explanation of the basis of your claim that Range voting 
produces more "votes" for third parties than does, say, Approval. 
There is a non-sequitur in this; most notably it involves the 
definition of "vote," which is quite different in Range than in 
Approval. (Yes, you can consider Approval a form of Range, but 
Approval happens to also work within other definitions which are more 
commonly accepted.)

I have never seen you explain how the two forms are compared, and it 
is crucial to your claim. The paper does not explain it; one might 
infer from the paper that a Range rating of a candidate of, say, 30% 
is considered to be "ten times as many votes" as an Approval Vote of 3%.

However, to make one difference clear, suppose you count Approval the 
same way as you would count Range: only the ratings of those who rate 
the candidate count. By this definition, if there is even one voter 
who approves a candidate in an Approval election, the Range rating of 
that candidate is 100%.

Quite simply, the rules you have proposed for Range don't work with 
granularity two.

(And there is still a remaining problem even if you count Range and 
Approval in the same way, i.e., you average over all votes, not just 
over explicit votes.)

Others have noted some of this, and, again, you have not answered 
their objections, as far as I have seen. There is a remarkable 
absence, in fact, of agreement with your claims not only here, but 
even on your own list, where one would at least expect to find some 
toadies, people who will agree with you even when they don't 
understand the issues.

If you can't convince experts, at least a few of them, how do you 
hope to convince political leaders? They are not equivalent tasks, to 
be sure, but which one is harder, do you think?

(Sometimes "experts" can have entrenched ideas and are trapped by 
them; indeed one of the topics on which I write regularly involves 
such a situation; but this is rarely true of *all* experts, and, in 
fact, I have never seen it happen in a free society.)

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