The chaos of democracy is not so easily explained


William Watson rightfully mocks the “wisdom of the voters” explanation that regularly surfaces in the wake of election results.

If the federalist party couldn’t win — which after nine years in power was unlikely — and if the reformist party was too untried, then a separatist government with only a tiny plurality may have been the best outcome possible. But it wasn’t due to the “wisdom of the Quebec voter.” I was there. The ballot I cast did not actually say “What kind of government would you like?” and then let us fill in the percentages of the popular vote we would like to see each of the parties get. Maybe it should have. Maybe that would be a better system. We now have computers smart enough to count ballots split in that way, even if we may not have a population smart enough to make the different percentages add up to 100.

But in any case, that’s not what the ballot said. What it said was “Vote for one of the following people.” You only got one choice. If you had tried to vote for more than one person, your ballot would have been cast aside as spoiled. So far as we can tell from the ballots cast, each voter wanted the party he or she chose to win 100 per cent of the vote.


The chaos of democracy is not so easily explained

  1. wiki ~ The wisdom of the crowd is the process of taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than a single expert to answer a question. A large group’s aggregated answers to questions involving quantity estimation, general world knowledge, and spatial reasoning has generally been found to be as good as, and often better than, the answer given by any of the individuals within the group. An intuitive and often-cited explanation for this phenomenon is that there is idiosyncratic noise associated with each individual judgment, and taking the average over a large number of responses will go some way toward canceling the effect of this noise.

    This process, while not new to the information age, has been pushed into the mainstream spotlight by social information sites such as Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers, and other web resources that rely on human opinion. The process, in the business world at least, was written about in detail by James Surowiecki in his book The Wisdom of Crowds.

  2. Well thank goodness someone finally said it!

    It applies everywhere though, not just Quebec.

    Elections are a crapshoot….parties know that. It’s why they shade the truth, hide the intent, appeal to specific ethnic groups, tailor things to suit red-headed, left handed flute players who can’t play golf……every vote counts, and they’ll do anything to get them

    Lately we’re down to robocalls.

    Nobody plans to ‘make a statement’…..because nobody knows how anyone else is voting!

    Political operatives….and the media….make up the messages supposedly ‘sent’ later.

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