[OPE-L] The wisdom of crowds

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Dec 08 2007 - 05:57:41 EST

In Australia, "compulsory voting'" is not actually compulsory voting, but compulsory ballot casting. There is a set fine for non-attendance at the polling booth. About 5% of non-voters pay this straightaway, with almost everyone else providing a valid reason for not voting. A few people take their case to court, where, if they lose, the fine increases plus there are court costs. Refusal to pay this can result in community service or a couple of days in jail. If you do not want to vote for any of the available candidates you can however resort to informal voting, by placing a blank or incompletely filled out ballot in the ballot box. It is impossible to identify those who do so, without violating the legally guaranteed secrecy of the ballot. The number of such informal votes is recorded, but they are not counted as part of the total number of votes cast. Over 95% of eligible Australian residents attend polling, and in both 2001 and 2004, about 5% of votes were informal.

The Left's understanding of democracy is often appallingly bad. It often boils down to the idea that "more people should be involved in making a decision". The rational kernel in this is, that if you are affected by a decision, you ought to be involved in making that decision. But merely involving more people in making a decision, does not necessarily result in a better quality decision. One person can be correct and a thousand people can be dead wrong. The chief advantage of a democratic system is just that it makes it more likely that the truth can emerge, insofar as one has the right to voice an opinion in public. The pursuit of science is itself not democratic, since if something is true or false, it is true or false regardless of how many people believe it, or disbelieve it. It is just that under conditions of democracy, it is more likely that the truth or falsity of a proposition can be established. 


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