Re: [OPE-L] the wisdom of crowds

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 11:10:40 EST

I would have thought that in a body this size ( say 100) 15 people would
be reasonably representative,  for a country you would want several
hundred people in order to adequately represent  classes, genders,
ethnic groups and trades or professions.

It does involve people being obligated to take part in politics as a
civic duty ( in ancient Greece citizens would be whipped into the
assembly   using ropes dipped in dye if they failed to turn up promptly
in order to shame them).

It is no different in principle from what occurs in Australia where it
is illegal to abstain from voting in an election.


Sent: 06 December 2007 15:22
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] the wisdom of crowds


        It depends on sample size not population size, and is related to
the poisson distribution of noise in information processing, the
standard deviation of noise grows as the square root of the sample, the
signal to noise ratio thus improves as the half power of the sample

         This is why the greeks chose large juries for court cases - of
the order of 100 not of the order of 10.


        Hi again Paul:


        OK, let's have a thought experiment.


        Suppose there is a body with approximately 100

        members (like OPE-L).


        What would be the "optimal" size for a

        deliberatory/administrative body where the

        members of that body were chosen at random 

        from the total population?






        OK, after you answer the above question, 

        please proceed to answer the following one.


        Doesn't  such a process require commitment

        on the part of all of the members of the

        population at least to the extent that if someone

        was randomly selected then s/he would recognize

        that it is her/his moral, ethical, and social responsibility 

        to serve? 


        Let's say that a significant % of the population 

        would _refuse_ to serve if randomly selected?


        Then what?  


        Would they be required to leave the population?


        Would they be asked to leave the population?


        Would their unwillingness to accept responsibility

        lead to a situation where a *select few* who

        would be willing to accept responsibility then

        become part of the deliberative body? If the

        latter happens, doesn't that then simply become 

        a new form of aristocratic/elitist decision-making

        where the leaders are essentially self-selected 

        rather than really being chosen at random?


        It seems to me that for such a system to work, 

        the entire population must accept that there

        are rights and *responsibilities* of being a 

        member of a population.  That, as I understand it, 

        was part of  the praxis of ancient Athenian democracy.


        In solidarity, Jerry 



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