Thursday, November 11

Should everyone be allowed to vote?

Should some people in society (other than those in jail or otherwise restricted) be restricted from voting? This is a topic I’ve thought about before.  It was brought to my attention again by a reader in the comment section of this thread:

http://nosuchthingasanopinion.weebly.com/1/post/2010/11/obamas-surprising-anti-terror-campaign.html#comments

The reader wondered whether the tendency of women to vote differently than men might be harming society overall. So, I decided to tackle this issue, looking not just at women, but looking at other groups, including men.

At this point, some people might be offended by the idea of even restricting voting.  It’s not something you hear often.  But I will argue that once you think about the logic, it’s a very logical argument.

First, you’d need to determine whether it’s even potentially beneficial to allow only certain people to vote.  I would argue that restricting voting to certain persons is one of the most important things a society could do for the overall benefit of society.

How many things are more important than voting? You are choosing the government…the people are choosing who will govern them!  In the case of the US, they are choosing who will manage the collection and disbursement of the largest pool of money in history! Taxpayer money! Shouldn’t it be of the utmost importance to choose the best people to govern us, to spend our taxpayer money?

Now, ask yourself this: Do you think there are any people that are misinformed, unknowledgeable, or not intelligent enough to make an ideal voting decision? 

Of course there are. There are many! This is evidenced solely by the fact that many people vote for people based on their personality, even when warning signs are available! Two examples of this are: 1) the election of Hitler even though Mein Kampf had already been published and 2) the election of Obama, even though his anti-American actions and associations-to say nothing of his extreme policies-were highly public. I'm sure there are many more examples of this phenomenon.

In fact, there is even more evidence that people may tend to vote based on a person’s personality. Obama’s overall approval rating is currently about 45-48%, yet if you ask people whether they support individual policies of his, the support is much lower.  Why? Well, when people answer as to whether they support Obama or not, they may be thinking about his personality (that he seems likeable) and not thinking only of his policies.

Has humanity’s ability to vote logically not changed enough between the 1930s and 2008?  If you were to poll people at the booths, how many would have actually been informed enough to provide a smart answer to back up who they were voting for?

Some readers might respond: Well, those people make poor decisions, but it’s their right to vote!

Is it really? People in jail can’t vote, can they? It sounds to me like voting is considered a privilege. 

But even if it was considered a right…perhaps that should be reconsidered.  After all, ideas aren’t immune to change.  If it is currently considered to be a right, that’s because at one point in time people in society made it so.  Society can similarly rethink its position if new information becomes available.

Voting is similar to playing a game, in one respect: If a country is going to send ballplayers to represent your country on an Olympic baseball team, the country sends its best players.

Why should it be any different with voters?  Why shouldn’t only the most capable people be sent to vote for society’s future? After all, the results will affect society by a magnitude much greater than the results of a baseball game will.  The wealth of the country as a whole depends primarily on its import/export policies alone. Why? Because (outside of the stock market, perhaps) it’s unlikely for a society to become wealthier (in terms of money and assets) unless it exports more than it imports. See this thread for more on that:

http://nosuchthingasanopinion.blogspot.com/2010/11/has-usas-wealth-been-shrinking-for-37.html

And there are many policies that will directly or indirectly affect the country’s export success: budget spending, interest rates, outsourcing, tariffs, trading agreements etc.

What could be more important than choosing a government that will enact the ideal policies for society?

If I was deemed not to be one of society’s ideal voters, I would have no problem with letting others vote instead of myself.

There are two possible negatives that I can think of in regard to restricting voting to certain groups:

1) Many people being restricted from voting probably will not like it. Chances are that many, if not most, won’t like it.  There could be riots.  This is obviously a negative, and if that negative becomes strong enough, it could overcome the other benefits of restricted voting.

2) It’s possible that the group that can vote might end up voting for people that end up serving the interests of the voters rather than society as a whole.  Or you might have politicians specifically pander to the people who are voting.  This is a serious problem, and certainly could be enough to invalidate the implementation of restricted voting.

However, as I will show below, the idea is that one of the criteria that you use to select who can vote is whether or not those people are rational and unbiased and expected to favor the interests of society over their own interests. I’m sure there are people like that out there.  But I think that there likely aren’t many people like that out there at all.

The concern would then become this: Even if you can identify people who, based on current information, would vote for the benefit of society overall, is it possible that they might change when placed in the new, powerful environment?

Yes, it’s possible, and so I suggest that if the use of only select voters is to be pursued, it be done on a temporary basis for evaluation, one year or one term, with a reversion to the current system after that. 

There should also have to be other safeguards put in beforehand, to prevent harm to society during that probation period (for example, putting in a law that states that certain financial benefits can’t be withdrawn from society under certain circumstances, etc.)

One area of concern is that the smaller the group of selected voters is, the easier they are to manipulate (by being paid off, etc).   This is something that certainly might derail this process; it would need further investigation.  However, a situation in which voters are being bribed is not totally different from the current situation in which politicians receive millions from lobbyists.

So I think I’ve argued well that it makes sense, for the benefit of society overall, to allow only certain people to vote, as long as they are able to remain unbiased and vote for the benefit of society overall.

So, who would those selected voters potentially be?

Well, I believe it's crucial they be rational, unbiased people.  As unbiased as possible, at least.  Why? There are many intelligent people who ignore logic and vote according to what they want to believe. Keith Stanovich reported there is almost a zero correlation between intelligence and rationality.  Therefore, intelligence isn’t enough.

Once you select for rationality, it’s important to select for intelligence and memory.  I think the reasons are obvious.  You want people that can analyse the information the best, and who can recall enough information to maximize the amount of information being compared.

How intelligent should ideal voters be? I don’t know the exact cut-off, but I would suggest people somewhere above 140 IQ, maybe 160 or higher.  Why? I’ve noticed that there are many very intelligent people who make incorrect claims.  I assume that they aren’t (for lack of a better term) smart enough to see things as accurately as someone with, say, a 160 or 180 IQ. And when selecting, I might not select based on traditional IQ tests, which use some subjective multiple choice questions in some parts (but you could simply select based on non-subjective results, perhaps. That’s another topic).

Another type of person you might select is someone who is emotionally aware.  A Highly Sensitive Person (as Elaine Aaron’s book is titled).  This type of person might be more able to discern the emotional aspect of people’s lives, and vote better accordingly (for example, they may be better able to determine what emotional impact a certain policy decision will have on the lives of others).  However, you’d have to choose a sensitive person that is able to block their sensitivity from overriding their logic, which can become a problem with some sensitive people.

Those are three examples of traits that an ideal voter should have, I would argue.  There are probably more.  There are ways to test for intelligence, to test for sensitivity, and to test for rationality (I assume, since it was a variable in a study).

The reader I mention above had stated that he thought society would be better if if women weren't allowed to vote.  So, would society be better off if women didn’t vote?

I believe the question should not be whether the ideal situation is for only men to vote.  It would very likely not be ideal for only men to vote. 

The ideal situation is to allow only the best voters to vote, regardless of whether there are more women or men in this group.

But it is interesting to study how society would change if only men were allowed to vote (which was the case at one time, and it would be interesting to study men’s voting patterns back then).

After all, if more women than men do vote illogically, then by definition it would mean that society would be better off if women didn’t vote (but like I said, this isn’t the most ideal situation, the ideal situation is one in which you restrict voting of both irrational women and irrational men).

But I find the argument interesting, because I like studying group differences, so I’ll delve into the topic.

Women do vote very differently than men.  Not massively, but significantly.

I remember Ann Coulter once said that if women didn't vote, Republicans would've won every election except one dating back something like 50 to 60 years.

Look at the exit polls from the 2010 election:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/exit-poll/US/r/

Women voted 49/48 Democrat, while men voted 55/42 Republican. That's a significant 7 point difference (7 points means women were about 15% more likely to vote liberal in 2010).  By the way, 15% is also close to another figure regarding male/female differences.  One study showed women get into about 15% more car accidents than men (although I’d still probably prefer to drive with women, because although men get in fewer accidents, I suspect the accidents they get in are at higher speeds and more likely to be life ending!)

It's important to note that the differences between men and women in 2010 are quite a bit understated in comparison to the past. Women were much more conservative during 2010 than in the past:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/11/03/women-independent-voters-biggest-swing/

“Whereas the gender gap played a major role in 2008 with women voting for Democrats 56 percent of the time compared to Republicans 42 percent of the time, in 2010 the split was 49-48 percent for Democrats to Republicans.”

However, even though women overall vote liberal more often than men, it’s very interesting to note that in 2010 white women voted conservative by a healthy 57/40 margin (although like I said, in the past women voted liberal more often, so white women probably had a different track history also).

So the question I have is this: since women vote differently than men, do women vote more illogically?

Well, you’d have to define the word "illogically". 

I would argue that one correct measure (although not the best measure) of whether someone votes illogically is whether he or she votes liberal. But it’s important to note that I don’t think all liberal votes are made illogically, and I don’t think all conservative votes are made logically. I simply mean that I think that there are more illogical voters among liberals than among conservatives, because I think that evidence is overwhelming that there are more liberal policies than conservative policies that are illogical.

The idea here isn’t to completely determine what’s illogical.  That’s a complex argument.  I simply want to determine why women vote differently than men, and to examine my thesis that women are less likely to vote logically than men, by a margin of about 5 to 10 points.  Here, I will define logic as voting in the best interests of society overall (although women might believe they are voting for the best interests of society, what they support might not actually be in the best interests of society).

So, what accounts for the voting differences?

Well, their genetic makeup (compared to men) involves more searching for consensus and reaching out to individuals to foster group harmony (this is probably evident by the common example: When a woman is in a bad mood she often wants to hear supportive words, not a solution).

I just read a good book showing brain scan differences between men and women, titled "Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business". It argues that evolutionarily, women are hard wired that way. And women’s method of thinking probably provides them (and many others, including offspring) with a lot of benefits in life (including reducing conflict through consensus).

But I simply think that the same method of thinking likely tends to lessen the odds that they end up voting for policies that are the most ideal for society overall. Again, there are many men that vote in a manner that’s not in the best interest of society either, but there is a gender difference.  I don’t like the fact that I feel the need to emphasize that there are also men that vote irrationally.  Readers shouldn’t feel that my comments about women imply that all men vote rationally, because nothing I’ve said implies that.  Unfortunately, in this politically correct world, people assume certain things for no good reason.

Remember when I earlier wrote that I think people with 160 IQs can often gasp the important concepts that people with 140 IQs can’t? Well, is it possible that there are fewer women with 160 IQs than men?

Yes. It's true that womens' average IQ is basically equal to mens'. But if you were to look at a bell curve distribution of womens' IQ scores, the curve may look different than mens'.  There may be fewer women at the very high and very low tails than there are men. Larry Summers publically stated as such, because he was trying to hypothesize as to why there are many more men occupying positions that involve extremely high intelligence levels (Nobel prize winners, the highest levels of science, etc.)

Now, as I said earlier, I don’t advocate allowing women not to vote, because you should define who the best voters are and then select both men and women from that group, no matter the ratios.

But what if one advocated letting men (and not women) vote? Someone might respond: Well, if Larry Summer was correct, there are more very smart men then there are very smart women, but there are also more very dumb men then there are very dumb women!  Wouldn’t the dumb men cancel out the advantage of the very smart men? Perhaps, but I don’t think that’s likely.

Why? Because it’s extremely high intelligence that I think is one of the traits ideal voters should have, and hence the difference in voting ability between

1) those with extremely high IQ and those without extremely high IQ

is likely greater than the difference between

2) Those with extremely low IQ and those with an IQ above that.

This is because those with low, average, and high IQs all tend to have large numbers of people who vote illogically. I suspect that it's not until you examine the voting record of those with extremely high IQs (160+ or 180+) that you will tend to see large percentages of voters who vote logically.

If it’s true that women have fewer members that score at the extremes of the IQ scales, why is that? I wonder aloud simply to provide information, this is obviously not crucial to my article’s point.

Well, I posit that such distribution of intelligence has, evolutionarily, provided them with a greater advantage.  Why? Well, if Larry Summers (and the anecdotal evidence) is correct about there being a different bell curve for women, the distribution means that more women’s IQ scores are clustered towards the average. This means, by definition, more women’s IQ scores are closer to each other, and hence when one woman meets another woman, they are less likely to have as large an IQ difference between them (versus a man meeting another man).

Why is this important? Well, if you agree that people are more likely to understand each other the closer their IQs are, this would mean women are more likely to understand (and perhaps get along with) other women.  This might have been important for them evolutionarily, in terms of being able to meet friends that help with typically female tasks of child rearing, social networks, etc.

So, evolution might have caused any bell curve distributions that may exist.

As I mentioned earlier, women’s genetic makeup versus men apparently involves searching for more consensus and reaching out to individuals to foster group harmony.

This might be reflected in their tendency to vote liberal, because liberals often claim (claim being the operative word!) to have the interests of minority groups in mind.  By voting liberal, a woman might feel that she’s building consensus and harmony by trying to help the races get along, etc.…that line of thinking…but that same tendency might conflict with her ability to look at a situation as rationally as possible.  Because voting for something in order to build consensus or avoid conflict doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the wisest decision overall.

Envision a bell curve distribution of womens' tendency to build consensus. And compare that to men.  My feeling is that women would have a distribution shaped more similarly to that of mens' IQ scores. There would be more women at the extreme tail ends.  And this would explain my reader’s comment that you see many more women moaning about “human rights”, “illegal wars”, etc, more extreme and rarer steps. (I haven’t investigated that assumption, but I would think it’s likely true). Because there are more women that feel the need to consensus build.

If you compare two bell curves, a small rightward shift in one of those distributions results in a very large increase in the number of people at the right tail. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of people at the 99.9th percentile increase by a large factor, perhaps five or tenfold.

So, if there are, say, ten times as many women as men that feel a very strong urge to consensus build, and if consensus building is related to protesting for human rights, against illegal wars etc., then it should not be surprising if there are many more women at these events than there are men.

One important thing to mention is this: Although I’m not familiar with the research, I think it’s fair to say that men are more likely to hire or promote a man than to promote or hire another women. Similarly, most groups would probably do the same, because people tend to favor those similar to them in some respect (although interestingly, I wouldn’t be surprised if women weren’t as biased in hiring, due to their search for consensus building. This is one of those examples in which their consensus building would provide a strong benefit to society, and might make them a better candidate for leadership).

Without knowing the research, I suspect that the most likely scenario that would result in women not being discriminated against is one in which men are so aware of the environment that they overcome the problem by intentionally hiring more women than they otherwise would.  That, along with the situations in which companies have gender policies that purposely encourage the hiring of women.

So, with this in mind, it’s possible that women tend to vote liberal more often because they feel that liberals are more likely to enact policies that will reduce discrimination against women. This could account for part of the gender gap in regard to voting liberal.  It’s important to note that even if it’s logical to vote liberal because liberals might reduce gender discrimination, by the same token voting liberal might results in society being harmed by other policies: liberal fiscal policies etc.  The question would then become: What’s more important, reducing gender discrimination that affects x percentage of women, versus selecting better overall policies that affect larger percentages of society?

This is not to suggest that most men intentionally discriminate against women.  It’s simply logic: Among a group of 100 men, you will probably find enough men that will discriminate enough to shift the hiring patterns.  And I would think that the same pattern would likely be found among other groups: blacks, blue collar workers, white collar, friendly people, etc.  They tend to favor their own.

One interesting thing to note is this: About the men that vote illogically...do illogical male voters tend to vote illogically for the same reasons illogical women do?  Do men vote illogically simply because they are also attempting to consensus build instead of concentrating on making the best choice?

No, some men might be voting illogically for other reasons.  When they do vote illogically (which may be less often than women do), men might have a tendency to do the reverse of women, to vote in their own interest, rather than search for consensus.  I argue that perhaps both tendencies are equally wrong when they are at the expense of making the best choice for society overall.

And I anticipate I will get some reaction regarding the rationality of voting.  I’ve explored rationality elsewhere on this site, but I will say this: Voting for someone that helps you in the short run isn’t necessarily the most rational decision.  Because, for example, if you are middle class and you vote for someone that will take money from the rich to give to the middle class, that might help you short term, but will likely hurt you long term, when that same rich person has less money to spend to hire the middle class, or to shop at their stores, or to pay in taxes. 

However, I’m not going to be rigid and assume that in every single case it’s best to vote for the interests of society overall instead of what’s best for yourself.  Feedback on this would be appreciated.

So when I mention it’s very important for extremely high intelligence to be a trait of the ideal voter, I’m thinking of situations like the one two paragraphs above.  Being able to project all the externalities related to the effects of a vote, not just the short, medium term, and the immediate long run.

So I hope I’ve convinced you that further investigation should be pursued to determine whether society would be better off by selecting certain people to vote for the outcome best for ALL of us. This would certainly be a decision of profound magnitude, and it shouldn’t be made easily, it would require a lot of research and discussion.

Now, those ideal voters may tend to include more men (with extremely high IQs), or they may tend to include more women (who have more emotional awareness), or those two traits might offset each other and result in equal proportions of men and women.

I hope someone pursues this line of research.

57 comments:

  1. The thing that never ceases to crack me up about supporters of "rule by the good" is that they think that people like them are "the good."

    In fact, research by Kanazawa (2010) indicates that a high I.Q. correlates with liberalism.

    However, I'd be the last to suggest that we limit voting rights to the "smart" and liberal. Why? Because Democracy does a better job than non-Democratic systems at safeguarding the rights and liberties of citizens, no matter how well-qualified the people running the non-Democratic system are. Compare, for instance, America and China.

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  2. Anonymous,

    Who do you think I'm apparently referring to as the "good"?

    I'm not surprised that high IQ correlates with liberalism. I had wondered if there was such research out there. After all, people in academia are highly liberal.

    However, many groups that test low on IQ vote liberal heavily, so I guess I would be surprised if a high IQ correlates with liberalism.

    I would like to see what that research says about people with extremely high IQs, how they affiliate politically. Perhaps the sample size wasn't enough to be valid.

    Look at this, however:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/exit-poll/US/r/

    Those with some college voted 53/44 conservative, college grads vote conservative 56/42, but postgrads voted liberal 52/46.

    Overall, this suggests that high IQ people likely voted conservative by a moderately large margin, but that those with pretty high IQs (perhaps 125 to 130 IQ) voted liberal, by a small but significant margin. I'd like to know how people with 160+ IQs tend to vote.

    Although this finding might not support Kanazawa's findings, the sample size used may be smaller than Kanazawa's. Also, the 2010 race was not typical of past elections. Many people who typically vote liberal switched to conservative. But will this trend remain?

    Also, consider that many people who identify as either conservative or independent apparently vote liberal. I've seen two studies recently, and in both, about 40% of the population identified as conservative, 20% liberal, and 20% independent. But elections are almost split 50/50 conservative/liberal. This suggests to me that independents might be voting liberal.

    IQ is only important if it's accompanied with rationality, and I believe liberals tend to be more irrational than conservatives are.

    In fact, someone that has a high IQ and is irrational may cause much more damage to society than someone how is irrational but with a lower IQ. Why? By spreading misinformation through the media, academia and convincing those that aren't as intelligent.

    A comparison to China? Does China select its rulers based on how rational and intelligent and emotionally aware they are? I doubt it. And even if they do, that means little if the system in place involves heavy doses of communism, which is a completely illogical system which would completely override any logic that its leaders do have.

    How can you judge the system I propose by comparison, if it hasn't been attempted anywhere yet?

    The ideal candidate won't just be rational, intelligent and emotionally aware, but a believer in capitalism, not communism or pure socialism.

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  3. Aristocracy = Aristos ("good," "best," "most fit") + Kratos ("power," "rule")

    My advice would be to learn more about how research is conducted. You ask if "sample size wasn't enough to be valid" - the fact that they have publishable results indicates that their sample size is large enough to get a statistically significant correlation.

    Now, the "rationality" argument is interesting - I've noticed that people such as yourself tend to define "rational" as "supports my preconceived opinions." How exactly would you test how "rational" a particular argument is? (Much less how "rational" a person is, as if rationality was dispositional.)

    China is run by people the ruling party would certainly consider to be the best and brightest. And I would agree with you that their results are terrible in pretty much everything but GDP growth rate. It doesn't work to screen political power-holders for ideological purity, period. This remains true no matter what the ideology is.

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  4. I had to laugh when I read this...

    "And when selecting, I might not select based on traditional IQ tests..."

    Might I be so bold as to suggest facebook quizzes as the best means to determine who should have the vote.

    I don't know the exact proportion of the population with an IQ higher than 160, but I'm guessing it's max. 1%. Once you strip out of that anyone who fails your other test - poor memory, not rational, possesses ovaries - you'd be left with around 0.5% of the population.

    You're suggesting that the overwhelming majority of the population should spend their lives in thrall to the whims of the minority.

    This seems remarkable far from the fundamentally American concept of "rule of the people, by the people...". Not what I'd expect to hear from someone who continuously berates Obama's supposed anti-Americanism.

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  5. This is one piece of economic philosophy that I particularly hate:

    "Voting for someone that helps you in the short run isn’t necessarily the most rational decision. Because, for example, if you are middle class and you vote for someone that will take money from the rich to give to the middle class, that might help you short term, but will likely hurt you long term, when that same rich person has less money to spend to hire the middle class, or to shop at their stores."

    It's just ridiculous, and has no basis in fact. Trickle-down economics is a complete fiction, invented by rich people to justify inequality. How come the money going to the rich will trickle down to the poorer, and yet, if that money goes straight to people who are less wealthy it somehow dissappears into the ether? Will poorer people not also spend money in shops, will they not also start businesses?

    The standard recourse is to talk about "wealth-creators", as though the rich were a magical breed of people who can't move for the new wealth that mysteriously falls out of their asses everytime they get out of bed. It's a nonsense.

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  6. I do not believe it's a question of gender or IQ scores.To me,it's a question of knowledge,of civic education,of being truly informed of yuor social and economical suroundings.Voting eligibility should be established (and retested on regular basis) through civic examinations/certifications.The questionaires must be prepared by most capable members of society,designated by public referendums kept before every election cycle.These "most capable" are just suposed to prepare the examinations and not to be the "chosen" ones alowed to vote in the elections!All people who qualify to be "voters" by responding to the civic evaluation questionaires would get a certificate allowing them to cast a vote.Those who do not qualify should wait until the next cycle to try bringing their knowledge level to the required degree.Gender,IQ,general education level,wealth,social position in society and all other such factors should not play any role in obtaining the right to vote.These factors may only be considered by the referendum voters to qualify the persons selected to participate in the questionaires preparation,which is a somewhat subjective process.I know it is not going to happen during my lifetime but I like to dream that someday,into the future,society will evolve enough to adopt some kind of more rational mode of defining democracy.What we are having today it is far from perfect...

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  7. @"Anonymous #3"

    Limiting voting eligibility to those who perform well on a civic examination is just as bad. Once again, it turns Democracy into Aristocracy by limiting who can participate in their civic culture.

    Democracy is inherently valuable because all groups of people have input, thus preventing the government from victimizing any particular group of people. Consider the first thing the South did when they victimized Blacks during the Jim Crow era: they limited their right to vote. That is what it looks like when the voice of the electorate is distorted.

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  8. That's just a glorified version of the literacy test that were used to disenfranchise blacks. You want an intelligent, informed electorate? Ensure your public school system is up to the task. Anything else would simply create a hereditary underclass.

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  9. @Anonymous #6

    At first I thought this site was a clever piece of satire; but, it seems NSTAAO is actually serious!

    Does Facebook have an "Are you a narcissist?" quiz? I think that NSTAAO would definitely be in the top 75!

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  10. You want an intelligent, informed electorate? Ensure your public school system is up to the task. Anything else would simply create a hereditary underclass.

    This, this, a thousand times this. That's why I'm a teacher.

    (Totally off-topic, but I'm curious: what do you do for a living, NoSuch?)

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  11. Hey NSTAAO, have you been through your Ayn Rand phase yet? Just curious.

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  12. How about people are assigned a number of votes determined by the amount of taxes they pay annually. That way - they have more influence over their tax dollars and how they are spent. So let's say - you get 1 vote for every $10,000 you pay in Annual taxes - you pay $100,000 in Annual Taxes - then you get 10 votes - 1 Million = 100 Votes etc... This way - you have accomplished 2 things - People who don't pay taxes - don't get a voice and people who are contributing to society and the Tax base - actually get more of a voice. Yes. - It will be top heavy with the 1 percent who already control the country - however instead of trying to cheat the tax system; people may actually start paying their fair share of taxes so that they can get their "fair" vote. Corporations are excluded. This has to be your own individual personal tax return associated only to your social security number - and if you are married and file Joint - then - yes - Like everything else - you have to split that too.

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  13. The only person so far I feel definitely NOT QUALIFIED to vote is the author of this blog, because I feel that he has the life experiences of a 13 year old (probably male) as evidenced by his calling "logical" that which is his opinion, illogical he calls any argument he disagrees with, and calling "biased" anything this contradicts his his own pre-conceived ideas.

    But maybe he is trying for satire, in which case perhaps he could have another (logical?) solution for prevention of famine in Ireland? (Hint for mr nosuch, referring Jonathan Swift which he is probably unaware of since literature, art and music have no place in his world run by logic).

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  14. "Also, consider that many people who identify as either conservative or independent apparently vote liberal. I've seen two studies recently, and in both, about 40% of the population identified as conservative, 20% liberal, and 20% independent. But elections are almost split 50/50 conservative/liberal. This suggests to me that independents might be voting liberal."mr no such.

    Lets see now 40 plus 20 plus20-- Does that equal 100%, or is my IQ too low to recognize your brilliant idea (PS between liberal and conservative there are those known as moderates or middle of the roaders. Independents are usually a category when party affiliation is being polled, not political philosophy, but as brilliant as you are your already knew that, right?).

    Furthermore, all the wonderful polls which you or others may rely on mean nothing if people lie to pollsters

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  15. I wonder what your blog would have said when Bush's rating was down around 35%. Going by your logic, Bush wouldn't even make the IQ barrier to vote for himself.

    Here's a reference to voting trends by IQ, sheds a little light on the subject I think:

    http://www.some-dreams.com/wandering/archives/002710.html

    NoSuch, It might do you a little bit of good to get off your right-wing agenda and try to right a unbias post every now and then.

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  16. Anonymous,

    you write:

    "I wonder what your blog would have said when Bush's rating was down around 35%. Going by your logic, Bush wouldn't even make the IQ barrier to vote for himself."

    Actually, I did write negative posts about Bush. Perhaps you shouldn't comment on my site unless you've actually browsed it all.

    You'd notice that I support liberal issues as well, when they are logical. But there are simply more conservative policies that are logical.

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  17. Anonymous,

    you write:

    "Lets see now 40 plus 20 plus20-- Does that equal 100%"

    Yes, 40+20+20=80. I didn't bother identifying the other 20%. Is that required? No, it wasn't relevant to my post.

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious. It's obvious you are trying to find errors where none exist, because obviously you have a problem with me and logic.

    You continue:

    "Independents are usually a category when party affiliation is being polled, not political philosophy, but as brilliant as you are your already knew that, right?)."

    Yes, you're probably right. However, that doesn't mean that the figures I referenced are incorrect, and it doesn't mean that the poll I referenced didn't refer to ilberals, democrats and independents.

    I dare you to challenge my figures, if you can. Let's see if you're all bull.

    You write:

    "Furthermore, all the wonderful polls which you or others may rely on mean nothing if people lie to pollsters "

    First off, they could never be entirely meaningless unless 100% of the people lie.

    And even if 100% of the people lied, you don't seem intelligent enough to know that if a poll is biased due to lying, there's no reason to believe that the lies would bias the results in one way rather than the other, without knowing more information specific to the bias. So, your comments about the poll are meaningless.

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  18. The problem is that your concept would entail that people considered as "appropriate" voters always think in the common interest of all.
    While this is not something that I think possible, as it is virtualy impossible to have a truely universal way of thinking, I also wih to point out that "intelligence" is not all.
    If you look at the people who lead countries around the world, many are probably intelligent, but it does not mean they will necessarily make the right decisions about issues they have to deal with.
    Although I would agree that some people are unable to vote in full understanding of what's going on around them and what is "good" for society, your system would bring power of decision to a new "elite" class, which would lead to a system close to what we had before the XX century. And I don't think that it could get rid of the plague of corporatism which would, in the end, cripple the "common good" concept.

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  19. A better to achieve what youare aim at would be education.
    Let's say a sort of "training", that would ensure that voters have basic knowledge of history, politics, etc to give them a basic understanding of what's going on around them, where we come from and are able to think about what kind future they want.

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  20. And I would tend to think that appropriate "training" would be useful for prospective parents, especially in the UK, to make sure they are aware of what it entails to be a parent and how to raise a child "properly".
    This might help tackle problems like teenage pregnancy and obesity, (highest rate in Europe)or anti-social behaviour amongst British teenagers.


    sorry for the typing mistakes in my previous posts, typed too fast...

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  21. (Reposted from the old blog:)

    "Obama’s overall approval rating is currently about 45-48%, yet if you ask people whether they support individual policies of his, the support is much lower."

    I'm pretty sure this is the opposite of true. What issues are you thinking about? For instance, for the health care bill, the most recent Gallup poll shows a 49-42 split in support, compared to 44-48 for Obama's overall approval ratings.

    Abortion? Hard to say, since it's not really a binary choice, but we've got 26% saying legal in all cases, 56% legal in some cases, 17% always illegal. Hard to make a conclusion there, but it certainly leans closer to the Democratic point of view than the Republican one.

    Immigration? 45% think there's too much immigration to this country, 51% think it's about right or too little.

    Foreign policy? Americans approve of our strategy in Afghanistan about 51%-42%.

    Maybe you've got a case for global warming: 48% think it's generally exaggerated. But isn't that one of the issues where you think conservatives are being more irrational?

    At any rate, my major beef with the central thesis of this post (aside from the paucity of facts) is that you don't take your argument far enough. If there's an objective way to say that liberals are being irrational in voting the way they do, and we should try to restrict irrational people from voting, then why bother holding elections at all? Let's just get a small panel of rational people (obviously Ann Coulter would be one of them) to pick the President every four years. There shouldn't even be any disagreement on such a panel, since there's no such thing as an opinion.

    Democracy is just asking for trouble, don't you think?

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  22. Sue,

    if you want to continue debating, then why don't you be admirable and admit you're wrong every time I point out your logical errors?

    If you catch me making one mistake, it's hardly a victory for you, considering I've already beaten you about 10-0 so far.

    Here I go again:

    49-42 split in SUPPORT of health care? You are unreal. I think your figures are likely a lie.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/health_care_law

    Rasmussen's recent polling:

    "Just 36% of all voters think the health care law will be good for the country. Since passage of the law in March, this finding has ranged from a low of 32% to a high of 41%. Fifty percent (50%) now believe the law will be bad for the country, a result that hasn’t fallen below 48% since the plan’s passage. "

    So Rasmussen finds that those who support the bill ranged from low of 32% to a high of 41% over several months ending in November, and you claim it's now 49%? Not likely.

    Do others verify the Rasmussen report? Yes.

    Here's an Associated Press poll from October:

    http://surveys.ap.org/data%5CGfK%5CAP-GfK%20Poll%20November%20Topline-nonCC.pdf

    See page 45. 47% oppose it, 38% support.

    CBS's earlier polling:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-6084856-503544.html

    54% disapprove of Obama's handling of health-care, 36% approve.

    I'm not going to bother researching your other poll figures (or to bother describing what I had in mind). I believe you are purposely spreading misinformation. I had the suspicion earlier when you made bizarre claims, and this unbelievable Gallup claim takes the cake.

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  23. Isnt it funny whenever someone tries to design a system that creates an "ideal" to strive for in which there are advantages to the elite, it always winds up with the elite "ideal" looking, thinking and acting like the designer of the system?? Strange coincidence, that?

    Under my system, since the current intellectual elite is composed of a bunch of pointy-headed intellectuals with little real life experience outside of an ivory-tower or computer screen, they should definitely LOSE their right to vote.

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  24. After reading this "thing", it seems to me that you want to restrict voting to only those who would vote for your party. Pretty shameful if you ask me. And comparing Obama to Hitler, nice touch.

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  25. @Anon two above this post:

    I always find people getting mad at intellectuals somewhat silly. Anti-intellectuals always come crying back to "ivory tower" graduates the second they need medical attention/legal assistance/investment/etc. Why react to expertise with anger?

    But yeah, I agree with you that NSTAAO is ridiculous. He's hardly an intellectual, though.

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  26. Instead of blogging, how about getting into the political scene and tiding people over with your infallible logic?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yikes. Comparing the election of Obama to the election of Hitler?

    You're probably one of the people who shouldn't be voting.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous,

    in response to my comment:

    "Perhaps the sample size wasn't enough to be valid."

    you write:

    "the fact that they have publishable results indicates that their sample size is large enough to get a statistically significant correlation."

    I agree. When I said that perhaps the results aren't valid, what I meant is that perhaps further studies using a larger sample size might find that IQ isn't positively correlated with liberalism. I could've worded it better.

    As you likely know, you can have statistically significant findings with very small sample sizes. One reason that replication studies are done is not simply to replicate (or oppose) the findings, but to, in effect, increase the sample size.

    An increased sample size is ALWAYS better.

    You write:

    "How exactly would you test how "rational" a particular argument is?"

    Simple. Whether existing evidence supports the argument being made in an amount that exceeds the evidence not supportive of the argument. See the Racial Hyphenation thread for more.

    And about China. Even their GDP growth rate isn't necessarily particularly impressive, given that large percentage increases are to be expected during the early portion of a country's rapid economic rise.

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  29. Anonymous,

    you write:

    "Might I be so bold as to suggest facebook quizzes as the best means to determine who should have the vote."

    Well, hopefully you wouldn't allow all quizzes, but allowing those with very high scores on the tests I took would likely result in the selection of extremely intelligent people.

    Why don't you take the test, let me know how you do?

    You write:

    "I don't know the exact proportion of the population with an IQ higher than 160, but I'm guessing it's max. 1%"

    1% is equal to 1 in 100. It's actually 1 in 31,560:

    http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/IQtable.aspx

    You write:

    "Once you strip out...ovaries"

    My my, you're quite touchy, considering that I never suggested it was ideal to restrict women from voting, and the evidence I provided didn't suggest that either.

    Why so touchy?

    You write:

    "You're suggesting that the overwhelming majority of the population should spend their lives in thrall to the whims of the minority."

    Actually, no I'm not. First, I suggested that it occur on a trial basis.

    I never suggested what would be done if the trial was successful. If successful, it could occur indefinitely but with the option for the entire population to vote annually to cancel the system and revert back to usual.

    Therefore, if the system was working, hopefully people wouldn't cancel it.

    And what's wrong with the idea of people being governed by a minority of very few people? If it works, and people's lives are better off, why not? If you are offended to the idea, just say so, but please admit it if you don't have any logical reasons to be offended.

    And after all, being governed by the few is basically the system we have now, isn't it? We elect a few to represent, and they never keep their election promises anyway.

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  30. Anonymous,

    you write:

    "This is one piece of economic philosophy that I particularly hate:

    'Voting for someone that helps you in the short run isn’t necessarily the most rational decision. Because, for example, if you are middle class and you vote for someone that will take money from the rich to give to the middle class, that might help you short term, but will likely hurt you long term, when that same rich person has less money to spend to hire the middle class, or to shop at their stores.'

    It's just ridiculous, and has no basis in fact. Trickle-down economics is a complete fiction, invented by rich people to justify inequality.
    How come the money going to the rich will trickle down to the poorer, and yet, if that money goes straight to people who are less wealthy it somehow dissappears into the ether?"

    No basis in fact? Actually, it's 100% certain to be true, and it's impossible for your claim to be correct!

    Either there is more money in the hands of the rich, or less. Either there is more money in the hands of the poor, or less. The less money in the hands of one of the groups, the less money that will be spent towards or used to hire the opposing group.

    It's basic math. A transfer of money that hurts one group benefits another. And since people interact in the economy, there MUST be an effect similar to what I've described.

    You mention something about the money that goes to less wealthy people disappearing. Who said anything about that? Not me. Of course the funds don't disappear, it stays in existence just as much as the money that is received by the wealthy.

    In terms of whether the rich or the less wealthy are better off having more money (and hence policies that transfer money to them, like tax cuts), I haven't commented on that, although everything else being equal (which isn't the case in life), I would think it would be preferable for the economy overall for smarter people to handle the money, which would tend to mean more rich than less wealthy.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anonymous,

    you write:

    "I do not believe it's a question of gender or IQ scores.To me,it's a question of knowledge,of civic education,of being truly informed of yuor social and economical suroundings."

    People can be equally informed, but smarter people will recall more of the information they encounter, and be able to analyse it better.

    However, I agree with you that your idea is at least a significant improvement over the current system!

    You write:

    "Gender,IQ,general education level,wealth,social position in society and all other such factors should not play any role in obtaining the right to vote.These factors may only be considered by the referendum voters to qualify the persons selected to participate in the questionaires preparation,which is a somewhat subjective process."

    I find it interesting that you recognize the value of IQ testing, education etc. in selecting those who prepare the questionnaires, but don't value those factors in selecting those who will actually take the vote.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous,

    you write:

    "Once again, it turns Democracy into Aristocracy by limiting who can participate in their civic culture."

    Why is it bad to limit those who participate? Let's say you you were to receive a reward if your group won a competition. If given the choice, would you send all 100 people to take the test (and use their average score) or would you send the best of the 100 people?

    And why should it be any different for government?

    You write:

    "Democracy is inherently valuable because all groups of people have input, thus preventing the government from victimizing any particular group of people."

    In order to prevent the government from victimizing others, you don't have to require that everyone is eligible to vote. In fact, you often get voter turnouts of 50% or less.

    Why shouldn't we be able to prevent the government from victimizing others when only very few are selected to vote?

    All you'd need to do is to set up a separate apparatus that is immune to government change without the approval of a majority of the population (the population overall, not the very few selected)

    And remember democracy has costs too: many of the people make ill informed decisions.

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  33. Anonymous,

    I haven't studied Ayn Rand at all. After briefly looking her up, I think I'd enjoy her writings quite a bit!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Frog,

    you write:

    " The problem is that your concept would entail that people considered as "appropriate" voters always think in the common interest of all."

    I don't expect them to always vote in the common interest long term(although ideally they would), but the idea is that the selection criteria will result in people who are MOST likely to vote that way (a large improvement over the current system).

    "...many are probably intelligent, but it does not mean they will necessarily make the right decisions about issues they have to deal with."

    Correct, and that's why intelligence isn't the only trait to be selected for. I mentioned others.

    " And I would tend to think that appropriate "training" would be useful for prospective parents, especially in the UK, to make sure they are aware of what it entails to be a parent and how to raise a child "properly"."

    Frog, VERY WELL SAID! One of the more impressive points I've read, my type of thinking. Yes, money spent on education in certain areas can result in great benefits in relation to the cost!

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  35. Anonymous,

    You write:

    "And comparing Obama to Hitler, nice touch. "

    I wasn't comparing Obama to Hitler, I was comparing the election of Obama to the election of Hitler, and even more specifically, I was comparing the election circumstances in the 1930s to the election circumstances in 2008.

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  36. Anonymous,

    perhaps politics will be in the future someday. If I become well known enough, and if I think I will be able to stand being around all of the corruption.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Reader 65,

    Could you please state your source?

    Also, irrational people are what make the entire voting process somewhat unpredictable, which means that, as we don't know who's going to be elected beforehand, candidates will say what they are going to support in office (not that they actually fulfill all of their promises, but at least they do for some of them), which is infinitely better than having an "election" in which we all know who will be "elected" to office while not really explaining their position on topics.

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  38. As I said, this all comes from Gallup.

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  39. Attn: NSTAAO,

    Rasmussen is not a reliable source of information. They were off by a record 40 points in the Hawaii midterms and generally revealed a massive bias related to actual election results.

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  40. Anonymous,

    First, being widely off in one poll doesn't mean that several months worth of their polls are invalid. Depending on sample size selection and/or other factors, errors in one study don't necessarily mean other polls had the same errors.

    However, if they WERE that widely off, it would be a cause for further investigation.

    I didn't use only their polls as evidence, however. I also cited AP and CBS, and I'm sure I'd be able to find many others, given that there were many reports of large majorities of people disliking ObamaCare.

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  41. Your entire thinking supposes 'the people' to be a homogeneous group with a common good, somewhat like a colony of ants.

    Actually, there are far more suppositions than that in your theory, but they can wait.

    Related to the idea that there is a single outcome most desirable to all people - this isn't the case. There may be a single outcome most desirable on aggregate, but that's a different matter.

    Because you think that the the optimal outcome for the whole is the optimal outcome for each individual, this leads you to the conclusion that it is appropriate to strive only for the optimal outcome - which you think can be best achieved through only allowing the most rational and intelligent to make decisions.

    However, there is no win-win outcome in politics. Therefore, how can you deny people the right to representation in their own interests?

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  42. Anonymous,

    I don't think that the optimal outcome for the whole is the optimal outcome for each individual, but by definition, the optimal outcome for the whole is optimal for more people than it's not optimal for. And because society is interconnected (especially when it comes to the economy), solutions that may seem optimal for some may actually be hurting them in the long run.

    If society is better off in one scenario (choosing what's best in the aggregate), why wouldn't you prefer that over a scenario in which some people are better off but more people aren't better off (society is worse, in the aggregate)?

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  43. Because I may be one of the people who are worse off! But that's just one side of it.

    Your analysis also only account for the aggregate benefit. What about the marginal benefit? I see nothing wrong with preferring a system that confers less benefit overall, but reduces inequality. In fact there are a lot of reasons for this: it equalises opportunity, thereby setting in place conditions for meritocracy; it ensure no single group gets too much power; and, research has shown that people are happier in more equal societies.

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  44. Anonymous,

    the issue wasn't whether you personally would vote for something that would be better for society but worse for you. I get it. It's possible for someone to be worse off individually even if society is better off (although the short term cost to the individual is often just, that, short term, because when you make society overall better off economically, the individual who's worse off will eventually (everything else being equal) improve economically since society has more money to spend on them).

    And my original post was about the rational the small select group of voters should use. If you have selected 1% of the population (that is selected in part due to their ability to be unbiased), and these 1% vote for policies that affect 100% of the population, the best choice for them is to select policies that are best for society OVERALL. They wouldn't want to favor themselves because the idea is you select people who you have reason to believe will act in society's best interest. They may be rare, but they are out there.

    When I use the term "benefit" I mean ALL types of benefits, not just economic. I include inequality, and all types of benefits that have to do with perception, etc.

    With respect, it was a mistake for you to assume that I meant something other than what I actually said when I used the term "benefits". Since I didn't define the benefits, it's meant to mean exactly what it says: anything that could be defined as a benefit.

    So, there's no need to separate types of benefits.

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  45. Fair enough if you're casting the net wide when defining benefits.

    However, back to your initial point that you can find people who will act in SOCIETY'S best interest. What evidence do you have that such people exist? You're talking about investing an awful lot of power in a very select group. I don't see anything in human history to suggest that would achieve your desired outcome.

    Rather, I think it would just be a recipe for greed, nepotism and corruption. The smaller the electorate, the easier they are to buy.

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  46. Anonymous,

    I'm not sure that my plan has ever been tried during human history.

    The reason I know such people exist is because I am one of them. I am about as unbiased as you can get, and would have no problem voting for policies that would benefit society overall, even if they harm me in the short run.

    I agree that they would be easier to buy off, but it still may be worth a try. After all, today's politicians are already bought. With fewer people voting, it would be easier to monitor them and ensure they aren't bought off, you create incentives to avoid that, or you simply use taxpayer money to make them rich so that there is less incentive for them to be bought off. There are things than can be done, it's not hopeless.

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  47. Hi, I was looking at your blog and I think it of much interesting, and very useful, this type of blogs I like very much, thanks for sharing with everyone!!

    ReplyDelete
  48. How many politicians do you believe look in the mirror every morning and see themselves as corrupt? None.

    They become corrupt because they are able to pathologically rationalize even the most unethical behaviors.

    "I should accept this bribe because I'm underpaid and I deserve it."
    "It's my duty to sabotage my opponent because he's a poor leader and has tricked everyone into thinking that he's a good one."

    Based on everything you've posted, I would say that you are at a very high risk of falling into that category.

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  49. "All you'd need to do is to set up a separate apparatus that is immune to government change without the approval of a majority of the population (the population overall, not the very few selected)"

    Sort of like the mice putting a bell on the cat--very easy if you know how--lol

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  50. "The reason I know such people (potential electors under your system) exist is because I am one of them. I am about as unbiased as you can get, and would have no problem voting for policies that would benefit society overall, even if they harm me in the short run." nosuch

    Why have elections at all, just set yourself up as the dictator--lol. You certainly claim to have the right stuff for it.

    If in the short term 90% of the people are murdered, but in the long term society benefits from lack of overpopulation pressures, would you be in favor of such as scheme? and who should comprise the 90%??

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  51. Anonymous,

    you ask:

    "If in the short term 90% of the people are murdered, but in the long term society benefits from lack of overpopulation pressures, would you be in favor of such as scheme? and who should comprise the 90%?? "

    The benefits from the lack of overpopulation would have to be enormous in over to outweigh the costs of 90% of the population dying.

    However, you don't estimate what the benefits would be, so it's impossible to provide a definitive answer.

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  52. Anonymous,

    the separate system could be verifiable by a rotating series of person selected randomly from the population, thereby eliminating the possibility of the overseer being paid off over the long run.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hitler was beneficial for Germany in the long run.

    If the Communists has gained power, you would have had a much more potent Eastern Bloc, and a real German alliance with Stalin! Britain would have fell, and we would still be under Soviet rule today!

    Hitler did not become Chancellor by popular vote either. The public just gave him a foot in the door.

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  54. I like the simplicity of the Pareto Principle.

    Unfortunately, limiting the vote is one short hop away from totalitarianism.

    People should be expected to be more self-reliant, and given more freedom to do this. Lazy parasites can rely on the kindness of strangers, and the worst criminals can be executed. Without a robust Constitution, it is very easy to erode civil rights.

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  55. Anonymous,

    I've researched the issue, and the research I saw showed clearly that Hitler was voted in. How do you think he came to power?

    I'm not sure that he needed to come to power in order to avoid communism. In fact, during the election that he won, communists were either banned from running or voting, I forget which (or their numbers were reduced).

    Even if a benefit of Hitler's election was an avoidance of communism, I'm not convinced there were net benefits to Germany. Hitler's war caused massive damage to Germany. Bombs back then didn't use GPS. They had to drop many many bombs just to hit a target.

    Another long term cost related to Hitler's election was the fact that the pendulum swung too far the other way. People became politically correct and were afraid to use race as a variable when making rational policy decisions (for example immigration, affirmative action).

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  56. Anonymous,

    why do you think that limiting the vote is a hop from totalitarianism?

    ReplyDelete
  57. "always find people getting mad at intellectuals somewhat silly. Anti-intellectuals always come crying back to "ivory tower" graduates the second they need medical attention/legal assistance/investment/etc. Why react to expertise with anger?"

    Sorry, I was being sarcastic in my remarks about stereotyped intellectuals- including the alleged intellectual ability of the author of this blog-but who is to say that when it comes to political decisions (not scientific ones ones--eg scientists can determine how to build a nuclear weapon, political leadership decides if, when, and how it is to be used--and NOT by taking a poll either--lol) that any one group's decision making process and values is superior to any other group??

    So, I do respect expertise, but I dont think that they are morally superior (whatever than means), more "unbiased", or better adept at determining political decisions than representatives elected by the public.

    ReplyDelete