[EM] uses of truncation

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Mar 20 20:35:39 PDT 2007

At 06:00 AM 3/20/2007, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>Here intermediate values get mentioned, but it is a puzzle as to the 
>smart way to decide on values for such that will give me the 
>advantage that Range CLAIMS to offer.

Who benefits from intermediate values? Is it the voter?

Not directly. *Society* benefits, by being able, to the extent that 
voters are willing to share this information, to make more balanced 
decisions. If you are interested in maximizing your personal effect 
on the process, you won't use intermediate votes, since they dilute 
your effect.

(A midrange vote is not the same as an abstention, but it is similar 
in effect, if personal power is the goal.)

This tension between the collective needs of society and the 
individual goals of the voter is visible in the alleged desirability 
of being able to indicate rank in the absence of a rating difference.

Range gives the maximum effect to the vote if the voter votes 
extremes. But voting extremes for more than one is essentially an 
abstention in the pairwise contest between two rated the same. Many 
seem to desire to be able to participate in that contest, even when 
the Range method allows sufficient resolution that significant 
differences in opinion as to suitability of choices can be expressed.

The problem is that by expressing that option A is a little less 
suitable than option B, one also reduces the average rating of option 
A in other pairwise contests, risking that, if other voters 
sufficiently prefer, say, C, C may win over A as permitted by this 
small downrating of A. It's actually not very likely, but certainly possible.

And my point is that there is no social value apparent to me in 
allowing this discrimination; it simply encourages strategic voting. 
If you prefer B to A, that information is useful to society if there 
is some quantifiable expression of *how much you prefer* B. If you 
aren't willing to downrate B because of some other consideration, 
such as competition with C, what you are effectively doing is to 
withhold your actual assessments out of fear that the majority will 
move the decision elsewhere.

I have argued that voters should be permitted to do this, but not 
that it is otherwise socially beneficial. I think we will get maximum 
social benefit when voters come to trust that if they honestly 
express their sense of choice suitability, the collective decision is 
likely to be sound, or at least as reasonably likely to be as sound 
as their own opinion.

A great deal depends on the context of the process. If decisions are 
properly deliberated before vote, such trust is much more natural and 
reasonable. I'm much more likely to want to vote *powerfully* if I 
don't trust that others are properly informed. When I feel heard (or 
that people have heard what is to be said on a matter, whether or not 
it was me who said it), I'm a lot more willing to accept group decisions.

I don't believe that I'm always right. Which does not mean that I 
consider that whatever the group decides is right, per se; it merely 
gives me some context. My opinion is that, in a group with good 
process, group decisions are, on average, more likely to be right 
than my opinion alone. The key to this, of course, is "good process." 
What is that?

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