Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Partisan Politics And The Fandom Menace


jimf said...

> [E]lection campaigns.. . are becoming (right and left)
> celebrity fandoms offering up occasions for imaginary
> identification & dis-identification, also sub-cultural signaling
> of belonging & parochial prevalence and treated less as
> collective job interviews for which questions of knowledge,
> competence, temperament, coalition-building matter most.

Spoken like a classic Democratic policy-wonk. ;->

I went to a Drinking Skeptically hangout in the Village
last night -- I was way early, sipping my hard cider at
the bar for an hour before anybody else arrived, but
both the first and second attendees (after me) had this
to say: "Oh my God, I think Trump is actually going to
win!" **I** was the one to say -- "Calm down, let's not
jump to conclusions, people are going to have a chance
to come to their senses by November." But they both insisted,
"Nope. Trump's going to win."

Skeptics. What are we gonna do with 'em? ;->

jimf said...

What "steering wheel"? I thought the country was
running on Tesla Autopilot. ;->

jimf said...

Policy debates?

Bring forth de lirpa! (Bring forth de Scalia!)
A Masked Avenger
28 July 2016

> I have been watching Game of Thrones and the Trial by Combat
> (option only available to nobles) has always struck me as
> only valid if the society doesn’t care about truth.

Quite some time ago I read a paper by an economist that argued
that “trial by combat” and dueling serves a rational purpose
in a society that lacks access to information (like forensics
or credit reporting). Roughly speaking, reputation stands as
a (subjective) proxy for unavailable (objective) information
like credit, reliability, or innocence, and a willingness to
take a significant risk to defend your reputation is useful

It would be hard to lay my hands on the paper now, but IIRC
it modeled this using game theory, and pointed out that a
habitual defaulter or a habitual criminal will be forced to
defend their reputation repeatedly, which carries a significant
risk of dying in a duel or combat. An honest person will tend
to face few such challenges, and a correspondingly low risk.
The willingness to accept that risk demonstrates that you
are either: innocent, and rationally accepting of this slight
risk; guilty, and an overwhelming duelist; or guilty, and an idiot.

The key is to realize that societies where dueling was common
were also societies that couldn’t perform forensics, or transmit
credit information from distant locales, or do background checks.
It’s not that they placed low value on truth, but that they
lacked the means to find out the truth and settled for a proxy
that was more reliable than a coin flip.

If we used trial by combat today, in lieu of DNA testing, then
it would indeed mean that we placed a low value on truth.


28 July 2016

> Trial by Combat (option only available to nobles) has always
> struck me as only valid if the society doesn’t care about truth.

No, you are missing the point. Trial by combat (or by talk-show “debate”)
has always been favored by political bullies. Antonin Scalia even regretted
that we no longer choose our head of state through armed combat.
His reasoning was instructive: it allows the common people to see that
God’s Will has been served, and helps them to accept unquestioningly
that the government, which wields the Sword of God’s Justice here
on earth, must never be limited or judged by the moral standards
of mere humans. That’s why he supported the death penalty in
spite of opposition from his own Catholic Church, which he pointed
out was merely human moral guidance, and had never been invested
with the same divine “infallibility” as its opposition to abortion.

It’s not that they don’t care about truth; it’s that they have a
far different definition of “truth” in which evidence and reason
play no part — where they are indeed a hindrance. That’s why
conservative support for education begins and ends with
“spiritual education,” and why reality, as we all know,
has a liberal bias.

jimf said...

Something from before the last presidential election:

(I suppose "jollyspaniard" is still reading this blog --
he commented as recently as March of this year.)
When Do We Reach the Limits? How Do We Know? What Is Our Responsibility Then?
Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot:

It is actually wrong to assume that America can weather infinitely
many pointless blows to its legitimacy, credit, and ecology. There
really are limits beyond which it is no longer possible to function. . .


jollyspaniard said...

America hasn't weathered the Bush presidency to be frank.
It stands greatly diminished as a nation in many respects.
Obama's presidency may be viewed in retrospect as a band aid
on a sucking chest wound.

Another blow like that could plunge the United States into
a USSR style imperial collapse quite quickly. A contraction
seems likely anyways but there are good and bad ways to manage
that contraction. How that contraction is handled will be very
important, perhaps more important than trying to prevent it
from happening in the first place.

Who woulda believed, in that innocent time five years ago,
the vision in a crystal ball tuned to the year 2016?