[EM] Dave reply, IRV

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 23 14:25:25 PST 2012

dlw: I agree with JQ's approach of realism that presumes that LNH or the
Weak Cournot Winner problem matters because it is important to take into
account the fears of incumbents when pushing electoral reform.


...so Dave is pushing for something that current incumbants will like because it
will keep on electing the same two odious parties, as lesser-evils, at Myerson-Weber equilibrium.

Dave says:

As for your dumb and dumber characterization, this gets at my arg that
lowering the Pirv

After Burlington, Pirv(federal) = 0.

...doesn't raise the Poth 


If IRV continues to embarrass electoral reform, then P(anything) will approach zero.
That's why serious advocates of electoral reform must distance themselves from IRV,
FairVote, and Richie.

Dave says:

...because there is no unity over
which election rule would take the place of IRV3 as the de facto leader by
virtue of its P if not it's X.


Can we guess that Dave is using "X" to stand for "merit"? 

Most people wouldn't propose something more complicated than Approval unless it's
better than Approval.

IRV is the "de facto leader", in terms of local enactments, due to heavy promotion
by means of someone's personal wealth. It's rather like buying your son's way into
a prestigious university, and then buying him a degree there.

There's no unity about which method we like best, but there is a strong consensus
that Approval is pretty good, and it's the obvious, natural proposal due to its
simplicity and its minimal change from Plurality.

Then we can talk about equally simple and obvious ways to get rid of the co-operation/
defection problem, and maybe add an additional level of majority rule protection. In other
words, such proposals as the conditional methods or SODA, all of which are based on, and
follow directly from, Approval.

> From: MIKE OSSIPOFF <nkklrp at hotmail.com>
> To: <election-methods at electorama.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2012 03:12:09 +0000
> Subject: [EM] Dave, Jameson: IRV
>  Dave:
> *Any proposal **for federal elections would be thoroughly scrutinized and
> examined. Do you **think that Burlington's demonstration of IRV's spoiler
> ** problem won't be found by those studying IRV's merit? *
> * * dlw: You gotta find new material.
> [endquote]
> MO:Most likely dlw doesn't know what he means by that either. Comedians
> and other
> showmen must use original material.

dlw: My arg that there's a healthy party-dynamism triggered by the
potential of IRV variants to spoil in a three-way competitive election is
original material.

Yes, that is original material. And, as new comedic material should be, it
is hilarious.

Healthy party-dynamism triggered by the spoiler problem? :-) What is triggered
by the spoiler problem is the stagnation of two un-favorite parties continuing
to win because the spoiler problem and the grossest FBC-failure make people feel
that they need to vote for their more preferred of "the two choices".

Dave says:

You're the one repeating the mantra that Burlington
sinks IRV once and for all....


For one thing, it isn't a mantra. Look the word up in your dictionary. If
you don't have a dictionary, you might consider visiting a library.

Many things are said by more than one person. Many parents tell their children
not to play with matches or run into the street in front of cars. They say it
even though others have already said it. 

If you insist on continuing to repeat
FairVote's lies and confusions, then don't be surprised if someone repeats the
answers to your statements.

IRV's problems don't go away just because they've already been mentioned. IRV's
chances for federal enactment don't improve just because they've already been
discussed. So yes, it's been said before, but it remains true.

But I'll make a deal: I'll stop talking about IRV's merits and chances if you do.
You haven't repeated anything here, have you? :-)

> MO:Regrettably, IRV's spoiler problem is still there,
> just like it was during the previoius many years when we tried to warn
> about it.
> It's old material. But it's currently a problem, as Burlington showed. So
> maybe the new material
> that's needed is a new voting system, instead of the old-material failure
> known as IRV.

dlw: Like I said... or as George Gershwin wrote, "It ain't necessarily


You could say that before the predicted failure was demonstrated in an actual
election. Now, the failure is demonstrated. Have you heard the story of the ostrich?

> Dave says:
> It's called the problem of micronumerosity.
> MO:Nonsense. That isn't a descriptive name. No doubt anything is called by
> different names by
> different people. The problem referred to is best known, well known, as
> the spoiler problem, which is also an incomparably better descriptive (if
> less pretentious) term. Maybe IRV's spoiler problem is called "the problem
> of micronumerosity" by the same people (or person?) who use your other
> pretentiously pseudoscientific language.

dlw:  Micronumerosity is not nonsense.


Oh, ok, Dave says so himself :-)

Dave says:

it may be better known as the "Law
of Small Numbers


Previously you implied that it referred to the spoiler problem. Now you're saying that
it means "small sample". 

In many statistical discussions, we hear the term "small sample". Statistics books speak
of small samples, by which it's difficult to draw statistically-significant conclusions.

I haven't run across "micronumerosity" in a statistic book or statistical discussion.

Dave says:

which says people come to decisions based on too small of a sample.  The
"negative" effects of the possibility of a non-CW winner in an IRV-ish
election can and should be observed on the basis of many elections,not


1. Then let's record and publish the information that would reveal outcomes
that, if known, would make someone regret that they voted their favorite in 1st
place. Regrettably, such information isn't often revealed after IRV elections. IRVists
have said that, by concealing that information, they can avoid the regret. That tells
you something about the honesty of IRVists.

2. The blatantly, grossly obvious spoiler problem of IRV, has been predicted and warned-or
for a long time. When the predicted problem happens soon after IRV enactment, yes that does
have significant statistical meaning. 

I say: People typically carry a house-key. You say "No they don't. Let's test your 
theory." So we stop someone, make him empty his pockets, and we find a house-key. 

That the predicted result is found so soon strongly suggests that it isn't rare for
someone to carry a house-key, or for IRV to fail as predicted.

Must we mug more people to check their pockets for house-keys, or cause more bungled

The sooner it happens, after the experiment begins, the more significant that result is.

> The use of "micronumerosity" reveals an ignorance of word-origin: The
> first part of it is Greek, and the last part of it is Latin.

Dave says:

Like there was never any historic influence between the Greeks and Rome?
 They both were affected by the cultural imports of
his travels abroad.

The U.S., Europe, and Japan have exchanged many ideas, and have been much influenced
by eachother. So then, why don't we tack together a Japanese word and an English word, 
to make a compound that means "small-number"?

Even in dictionaries, there are probably some compounds consisting of words of different origin.
Dictionaries don't rule on validity. They report usage. When a dictionary reports that the
use of "interdict" to mean "physically intercept" (instead of merely "verbally forbid") has become
popular, that doesn't make it valid, and doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

Do you have a problem with "small sample"? What's the matter? Isn't it pseudoscientific enough or
pretentious enough?

Let's look at some possibilities. Aside from the usual, universally-found, "small sample",
someone could coin "Few-ness". But, if ordinary English is to ordinary for you, we already have, in
English, a Latin-derived word for "Too-few-ness": "Paucity".

But maybe, to sound more scientific, you want something longer, more unusual, and Latin. No problem.
We have a word "Supernumary". Its opposite would be "Subnumary". To make a state-of-affairs noun
from it, one could say, consistent with practice with other words, "Subnumarity".

It has the advantage of all being derived from one language, and the advantage of being closely
related to a word actually used in English.   ...if you think that the earlier-mentioned
words and phrases won't do, for some reason.

Though "Supernumary" is a word, and I've run across it, my dictionaries don't have it, and so I can't
guarantee that I've spelled it correctly.

Dave says:

And the word is not my own...


So, the fact that you got it from someone else makes it valid, legitimate,
or means that it makes some sense?

> Dave says:
> Burlington VT is not the smoking gun. It's evidence that if we get
> perfectionistic

> MO: Only an IRV-promoter thinks that it's "perfectionistic" to reject one
> of the two or three worst
> methods, a method whose improvement over Plurality debatable, and
> miniscule at best.

dlw: if FPP had been used in 2009 then clearly in Burlington there'd have
been a much worse outcome from the point of view of the majority of
voters... unless of course you're presuming strategic voting on behalf of
dissenters from the two existing major parties to elect the CW.  If that
were so then yes we'd get the CW elected, but there'd be no real dynamics
towards moving the center from its de facto position to its true position.


Our election results don't tell where the center (population median" is. There's
no reason to believe that it's between the Democrat and the Republican.

IRV, like Plurality, will (as I said) continue electing the same two unliked parties
at Myerson-Weber equilibrium forever. No, IRV will not move toward the population
median. Approval will, however. I refer you to Myerson & Weber. You can start with
the article for which you posted the title, journal, date, and issue.

Dave says:

That is hardly miniscule!!!


I agree that electing the same two unliked parties forever isn' miniscule.

Dave says:

Get your head out of your pseudo-experimental
analytics for a little while... 


To use Dave's word, it is "analytically" blatantly and grossly obvious that
IRV will do what it did in Burlington. But you can no longer say that the problem
is only theoretical or analytical, can you.

Dave says:

It is complete bs to say that IRV is worse
than picking candidates at random.


No, that wasn't what I said:

I said that IRV is worse than picking a voting system at random.

> MO:The elegantly simple Approval is incomparably better than IRV, as
> judged by the properties
> valued by most at EM, and most who look at voting systems. Preferring the
> much simpler Approval, to IRV, isn't perfectionism.

dlw: But is EM the true standard for real life or is it biased by virtue of
how its members are oft removed from the world of real life activism?


IRV has been tried in real life. Need I remind you of its results?

IRVists have long questioned the validity of the "theoretical" or "analytical"
predictions from those who actually seriously compare voting systems (as opposed to
just promoting one). Real world experience confirms those "theoretical" predictions.

> Dave says:
> ...so the anti-reform types can play divide and conquer agianst us
> Conspiracy theory paranoia. Anti-reform types didn't "divide" the rest of
> us from IRV. IRV's ridiculous inadequacy accomplished that.

dlw: What's ridiculous is your insistence that IRV is ridiculously
inadequate in "real life", when the relatively rare occurence of
competitive three way elections so clearly proves that to be false...

You bring 6 dogs into a room intended for cats. No cats enter the room.
I come in and say, "You know, those dogs will keep cats away." You say,
"What cats? Dogs don't do any harm when there aren't any cats."

Dave says:

I don't need a conspiracy to argue that well-meaning folks who rank other
election rules above IRV variants are strategically coopting args developed
by the defenders of the status quo to build up my case of us joining ranks
to at least strategically push for (or not to attack) IRV in the immediate
future so as to increase the chances of further electoral reforms in the


As I said, IRV is an embarrassment to electoral reform. Serious electoral reform
advocates must publicly distance themselves from it. 

FairVote never was democratic. Richie didn't ask dues-paying members of his organization which
voting system the organization should promote, or listen to their dissenting opinions.

So it's rather amusing now, to hear calls for co-operation. 

FairVote says, "Everyone get in line behind me."

dlw:Yes, it is hard to get electoral reform in the US.   This makes
perfectionism counter-productive 


Can it be that Dave doesn't know what a prize understatement it is to
say that IRV isn't perfect? Wanting the improvements that the simple
Approval brings, and that IRV fails to bring, isn't perfectionism.

> Dave says:
> Like I wrote, the only way a non-CW can win w.,
> [endquote]
> Wrong. Ever heard of the squeeze-effect? All it takes is for favoriteness
> to taper gradually
> away from a middle CW, and s/hell lose to flanking candidates receiving
> transfers cascading
> in from the sides.

dlw: In that case, the two major parties are not centered around the
center, are they?   So I am not wrong...


Yes, they are. A middle CW with a Plurality win will lose in IRV under the common
conditions that I described. And the next biggest candidate, in that scenario, is
right next to him in political-position-space.

> MO:Quite aside from that, with 3 candidates, there is one chance 3 that
> the middle
> candidate will be the smallest of the 3. And for hir to be CW requires
> only that
> neither of the extreme two has a majority.

dlw: And, the conjunction of those two requirements make the non-election
of a CW, given the unlikely situation of a 3-way competitive election, not
terribly likely....    So |Xirv-Xoth| is still small relative to Pirv-Poth.


So Dave thinks it would be rare for the 1/3 probably that middle is smallest
to coincide with neither extreme candidate having a majority :-)

> MO: Dave is saying that IRV's spoiler problem can be avoided if the two
> biggest candidates
> insincerely change their positions to the median, CW, position.  But doing
> so would violate their promises to the people and corporations that
> gave them their money. They can't just
> change their positions that much.

dlw: All's fair in Love and Politics.   If we don't adapt, we die.


It's an individual voting choice. You can vote for dishonest candidates if you want to.
You think that they're a necessary fact of life, so we should all vote for the dishonest
candidate who isn't quite as bad as the others. You're the result of Plurality and its
big FBC-failure and consequent spoiler problem. And you want another method, IRV,
that has the same properties.

With better methods, people can freely, without fear, vote for their favorites. With
Approval, for the first time, everyone could vote for their favorite. ...would have no reason
not to.

Things needn't be the way they now are, Dave.

Mike Ossipoff

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