Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Wisdom of Crowds

No apologies for this follow up post to that below; this subject is actually far more important than those with which the MSM are filling their front pages today. In the comments to the Telegraph piece, 'Septimus Brope' writes;
Rabble-rousing, populism and government by opinion poll.
That's referenda for you, the haunt of dictators and demagogues throughout the ages: they have absolutely no place in a Parliamentary democracy. To hell with them.
Tell me this, by what particular mystical mechanism is the average man on the street able  to decipher the several hundred pages of the Lisbon Accord , for example, and to form a considered opinion as to the detail, never mind the nuances, of its contents?
What are you suggesting; that we ask this nation of couch-potatoes, immigrants, illiterates and the educationally sub-normal to press a red or blue button to decide upon the great matters of state?
Are you kidding me? (my italics)
For a start, every person is in exactly the same position as MPs in their ability to access, read and decipher documents such as the Lisbon accord. A few non-MPs such as Richard North will even have a better idea than almost any MP of the meaning and implications. Indeed, MPs are so weighed down with selfish personal appeals from constituents against the State's rationing decisions that they will have less time to consider the issues than many of their voters. And are we to exclude 'couch-potatoes, immigrants, illiterates and the educationally sub-normal' from voting, as Fabians past would dearly love to have done?

Besides, we know that large groups make better decisions than individuals or small groups. The phenomenon, and it is almost a mystical mechanism, is known as the Wisdom of Crowds. In the case of a Commons vote, where MPs troop like sheep into the lobbies, it's the party HQ, a very small group, that makes the decisions. A much larger group will always make a better one.

11 comments:

Greg Tingey said...

Like being in favour of Capital Punishment - even when we KNOW that mistakes WILL be made, and that innocent people will be murdered by the state?

Or wanting to pick a really dangerous medieval religious bigot as possible leader of your party, or alternatively someone who is mad enough to believe that words were brought to a US ex-con-man on gold plates?
(Hick Sanatorium & Romney, respectively) ???
Um.

Again, again, yet again ... education.

Raedwald said...

Greg - I'm with you on capital punishment, and it seems public opinion is now marginally against it too. Guido's petition, which he confidently expected to reach 100,000 within days, faded and died with just a fraction of the support needed.

Anonymous said...

The 'lisbon constitution' was designed and drawn up in opaque legalese to make sure that it would not be scrutinised by the masses.
IMO, there was no need of line by line scrutiny - I would have kicked it straight into the long grass where it effin well belongs. Our [esteemed MP's] representatives were told to vote for it and that was that.
The Berlaymont Kommissars knew full well - if it [Lisbon constitution] had have been put to a popular vote - it would struggled to have won an 'affirmative nod' even in GERMANY.

Anonymous said...

The state already sanctions the death penalty summary execution by police in the street.

Pat said...

For the wisdom of crowds to apply, the crowd must be diverse, that is with different backgrounds and interest- well we've got that in spades.
Each member must act independently. For that to happen we need a diverse information supply, yet we allow the department of education to dictate what schools teach, and give very favourable trading terms to a broadcaster which pushes the official line.
Of course the populism rightly derided consists in manipulating the supply of information so that each individual is fooled firstly into believing what the populist wants him to believe and secondly that everyone believes the same.

right_writes said...

As anonymous states, the "lisbon" accord/trash is supposed to be opaque.

I reckon that there is a need for a succinct constitution, like that of the US, coupled with referenda/referism at all levels of government.

Under that scenario, one could pick their representatives out of the "Smith" section of the telephone directory and put them to work...

… Mind you, the way things are at present, that might already be the case.

It's not the people that are stupid, it's our representatives.

Edward Spalton said...

If you believe in the "wisdom of crowds", do look up the speech made by Dr. Goebbels in which he asked an audience of all classes of German society "Wollt Ihr einen totalen Krieg?" (Do you want a total war?) and got an ecstatic, orgasmic "Yes!". There are plenty of video clips on the internet - some of them with English subtitles and the complete news report.

He finished his speech "Dann Volk steh' auf und Sturm brech los!" (Then stand up people and let storm break loose!"
(I think that's from Wilhelm Tell.) to even more ecstatic cheers.

Crowds are the most appalling, savage things. As part of them, individuals will abdicate all moral and common sense.

Anonymous said...

Edward, you're talking about a mania of crowds, a mass hysteria.
One should [if one can] always avoid mobs of people, a crowd can easily turn very nasty and I have witnessed it first hand, there is no logic, nor rationale to mass hysteria and violence is never far away.
One man, if he knows what he is about, can manipulate people very easily, a gaping open door for the 'evil that men do'.
Behind closed doors, people are able to form calm rational judgements - something often lacking in the lobbies [where hysteria can oft' prevail] - when the members have been dragged out of their watering holes - even if they understood the literature/prospective Act in the first place [which I often doubt].

right_writes said...

Further to Anonymous comment to Edward Spalton… They were responding to an elected representative, as he goaded his audience/mob into mass hysteria.

G. Tingey said...

right-writes
Exactly the way Hick Sanatorium is doing in the USSA right now, you mean?
Trying to deny even basic contraception to ANY woman, at all ...
Eeeeuuwwww.

James Higham said...

Most certainly a non-efficacious way to go about government.