Voting VS Spending

Which is more effective?

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Voting VS Spending

#1  Postby Xerographica » May 13, 2018 4:22 pm

Here's a list of books...

The Origin Of Species
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Handmaid’s Tale
A Tale of Two Cities
50 Shades of Grey
Principia
The Bible
War and Peace
A Theory of Justice
The Cat in the Hat
The Wealth of Nations
The Hunger Games

Imagine if this list was sorted by a bunch of college students. One group of students would use voting to rank the books while another group would use spending. To be clear, the spenders wouldn’t be buying the books, they would simply be using their money to express and quantify their love for each book. All the money they spent would be used to crowdfund this experiment.

How differently would the voters and the spenders sort the books? In theory, the voters would elevate the trash while the spenders would elevate the treasure. This would perfectly explain the exact problem with Google, Youtube, Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Medium and all the other sites where content is ranked by voting. Democracy is a major obstacle to the maximally beneficial evolution of society and its creations. Of course I might be wrong.

Evidence is something that all reasonable people expect. Reasonable people expect medicine to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect executions to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect evolution to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect love to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect important things to be supported by evidence. So when it comes to democracy... where are all the reasonable people? Where's the expectation for evidence that voting is more effective than spending?

Naturally some, or even most, of you will be very inclined to try and justify/explain/defend democracy. But if you do so, please acknowledge the fact that your defense is not based on any evidence that voting is more effective than spending. Since your belief in the effectiveness of democracy isn't based on evidence, it must be supported by faith. You trust that democracy is correlated with abundance.

Every theory of abundance is a religion. Some religions are more correct than others.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#2  Postby Pebble » May 13, 2018 4:56 pm

I don't think anyone here feels democracy is a good system, rather the least worse. Further it is not based on no evidence, rather the evidence is limited e.g. considerable work on the superiority of collective decision making.

Potential issues with 'spending' as a metric are: those with spare cash have an advantage, those with the strongest beliefs (e.g. pressure groups) have an advantage and can also 'buy' the support of others directly. There may be others, so I would suggest the first thing you need to do is design, carry out and report on experiments that tests your hypothesis - clearly the 'gold standard' will require work.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#3  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 13, 2018 5:03 pm

Xerographica wrote:Here's a list of books...

The Origin Of Species
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Handmaid’s Tale
A Tale of Two Cities
50 Shades of Grey
Principia
The Bible
War and Peace
A Theory of Justice
The Cat in the Hat
The Wealth of Nations
The Hunger Games

Imagine if this list was sorted by a bunch of college students. One group of students would use voting to rank the books while another group would use spending. To be clear, the spenders wouldn’t be buying the books, they would simply be using their money to express and quantify their love for each book. All the money they spent would be used to crowdfund this experiment.

How differently would the voters and the spenders sort the books? In theory, the voters would elevate the trash while the spenders would elevate the treasure. This would perfectly explain the exact problem with Google, Youtube, Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Medium and all the other sites where content is ranked by voting. Democracy is a major obstacle to the maximally beneficial evolution of society and its creations. Of course I might be wrong.

Evidence is something that all reasonable people expect. Reasonable people expect medicine to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect executions to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect evolution to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect love to be supported by evidence. Reasonable people expect important things to be supported by evidence. So when it comes to democracy... where are all the reasonable people? Where's the expectation for evidence that voting is more effective than spending?

Democracy is the least unfair system that I am aware of. It's not perfect, but it's the best we currently have.

Now with regards to your argument/analogy:
1. Books are a matter of taste not objective facts.
2. This means you have no objective basis to assert that one way would elevate trash and the other treasures. Especially since you haven't even properly defined what 'trash' or 'treasures' refers to exactly.
3. You haven't justified your assertion that voters would elevate trash and spenders treasure.
4.
Reasonable people expect executions to be supported by evidence.

Reasonable people wouldn't accept executions.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#4  Postby Xerographica » May 13, 2018 5:53 pm

Pebble wrote:I don't think anyone here feels democracy is a good system, rather the least worse. Further it is not based on no evidence, rather the evidence is limited e.g. considerable work on the superiority of collective decision making.

If you perceive that democracy (using voting to rank things) is the least worst system, then you obviously must believe that it's better than the market (using spending to rank things). However, as far as I know, there isn't any evidence that this is truly the case.

Pebble wrote:Potential issues with 'spending' as a metric are: those with spare cash have an advantage, those with the strongest beliefs (e.g. pressure groups) have an advantage and can also 'buy' the support of others directly.

If these are truly genuine issues, or problems, with spending, then they would adversely affect the rankings.

Pebble wrote:There may be others, so I would suggest the first thing you need to do is design, carry out and report on experiments that tests your hypothesis - clearly the 'gold standard' will require work.

I'm not personally in a position to conduct this experiment. Of course it really should be conducted, but I primarily want to point out the fact that the widespread belief in democracy isn't supported by any evidence that it's more effective than the market.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#5  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2018 5:58 pm

Xerographica wrote:How differently would the voters and the spenders sort the books? In theory, the voters would elevate the trash while the spenders would elevate the treasure.


By what theory is that?

As a rule I tend to stick (broadly) with the famous Churchill quote about democracy:
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time


Whenever and wherever you look at non democratic societies they are worse. They oppress minorities, trample human rights and none have innovated and advanced in the same way democracies have.

Maybe in different circumstances different forms of government would win out, but here and now? It's not happening.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#6  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 13, 2018 6:01 pm

Xerographica wrote:
Pebble wrote:I don't think anyone here feels democracy is a good system, rather the least worse. Further it is not based on no evidence, rather the evidence is limited e.g. considerable work on the superiority of collective decision making.

If you perceive that democracy (using voting to rank things) is the least worst system, then you obviously must believe that it's better than the market (using spending to rank things). However, as far as I know, there isn't any evidence that this is truly the case.

Nor is there any evidence that libertarianism is better than democracy.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#7  Postby surreptitious57 » May 13, 2018 6:03 pm

The best system is not democracy but meritocracy which probably has never been tried as it is quite Utopian in principle

Labelling people as reasonable is misleading for everyone has combinations of both reasonable and unreasonable in them

I have never heard of reasonable people wanting evidence for love
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#8  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2018 6:07 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:The best system is not democracy but meritocracy which probably has never been tried as it is quite Utopian in principle


I definitely don't agree with that. You can have a democracy that rewards merit, but replacing democracy with meritocracy?

Surely you need a method to find and put in place the most meritorious?
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#9  Postby Xerographica » May 13, 2018 6:20 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:Democracy is the least unfair system that I am aware of. It's not perfect, but it's the best we currently have.

My main point is that there's no evidence that voting is better than spending at ranking things.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:Now with regards to your argument/analogy:
1. Books are a matter of taste not objective facts.

I agree.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:2. This means you have no objective basis to assert that one way would elevate trash and the other treasures. Especially since you haven't even properly defined what 'trash' or 'treasures' refers to exactly.

Like you pointed out... trash and treasure are subjective, so it would be pointless for me to try and define them. But if voting puts Harry Potter at the top, while spending puts Adam Smith or Charles Darwin at the top, then this is something you should seriously consider before endorsing voting as the best way to elect presidents.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:3. You haven't justified your assertion that voters would elevate trash and spenders treasure.

The proof is in the pudding. Sure, I could say that the point of education is that it's correlated with income. Is there any evidence that this is true? Does there need to be? If so, then you should agree that there also needs to be evidence either for, or against, the effectiveness of voting compared to spending.

Thomas Eshuis wrote:4.
Reasonable people expect executions to be supported by evidence.

Reasonable people wouldn't accept executions.

The majority of jurors accepted the execution of Socrates. Were they reasonable? In any case, I'm guessing that they would have been far more reasonable if they had been obligated to put their money where their votes were.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#10  Postby Xerographica » May 13, 2018 6:25 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:I have never heard of reasonable people wanting evidence for love

Does Erich Fromm count as reasonable?

If a woman told us that she loved flowers, and we saw that she forgot to water them, we would not believe in her "love" for flowers. Love is the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love. Where this active concern is lacking, there is no love. - Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#11  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2018 6:35 pm

Xerographica wrote:Like you pointed out... trash and treasure are subjective, so it would be pointless for me to try and define them. But if voting puts Harry Potter at the top, while spending puts Adam Smith or Charles Darwin at the top, then this is something you should seriously consider before endorsing voting as the best way to elect presidents.


Why would serious consideration of electing presidents by paying for them (which would pretty obviously lead to immediate tyranny, and disenfranchise almost everyone) follow from Adam Smith having had more money spent on his books than J K Rowling?

Is it not worth the same consideration if J K Rowling earned more from her books than Adam Smith*?

*Which she did, by far.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#12  Postby laklak » May 13, 2018 6:40 pm

That 50 Shades bint earned a bloody fortune.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#13  Postby minininja » May 13, 2018 6:45 pm

Well, this is an odd one. :popcorn:
[Disclaimer - if this is comes across like I think I know what I'm talking about, I want to make it clear that I don't. I'm just trying to get my thoughts down]
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#14  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2018 6:50 pm

Anyway, here's a few links to data, since evidence is under discussion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_b ... ling_books
http://blog.lovereading.co.uk/special-f ... viFtYoh2Ul
https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com ... llers1.htm
https://www.theguardian.com/news/databl ... ey-compare
https://jamesclear.com/best-books/best-selling

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100.shtml

It seems the Quran and the bible do rather well, along with good ol' mass murdering Chairman Mao, while the great works of laissez-faire capitalism and poor old Adam Smith lag way, way behind on the sales stakes.

It's tougher to find data about "favourite" as opposed to "best selling" books, so there's a bit of a culturally biased BBC page and not much else in my preliminary search+filter attempt. It does appear there's a lot of correspondence between favourite and best selling, although favourite seems to centre a lot more on fiction (or at least a different kind of fiction to the Bible or Quran).
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#15  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2018 6:53 pm

This also might provide another clue why we shouldn't necessarily always go with "best selling means best":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_b ... utomobiles
Image

Have to say I'm not inclined to drive one of those.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#16  Postby laklak » May 13, 2018 7:51 pm

People spend a shitload of money on utterly useless stuff. The spend shitloads of money on stuff that is actively harmful, just look at diet soda sales figures.

I wonder, is there a relationship between voting for Trump and drinking Diet Coke? Might be a fundable study there.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#17  Postby Calilasseia » May 13, 2018 7:55 pm

Anyone who thinks money is superior to critical thinking and acting thereupon, has come to the wrong forum.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#18  Postby Xerographica » May 13, 2018 8:16 pm

Thommo wrote:It seems the Quran and the bible do rather well, along with good ol' mass murdering Chairman Mao, while the great works of laissez-faire capitalism and poor old Adam Smith lag way, way behind on the sales stakes.

Like I emphasized in the OP, the spenders wouldn't be buying the books.

Timmy is a ten year old who loves Harry Potter. Frank is a fifty year old who loves Adam Smith. In a democracy, Timmy and Frank will have equal influence on the rankings of Potter and Smith. In a buying market though, Timmy will have more influence than Frank, given that all of Smith's works are freely available online. But what about in a ranking market? Chances are good that Frank will outspend Timmy.

Think about it in terms of tug-of-war. With democracy, Timmy and Frank are on opposite sides of the rope. Neither of them pull on the rope though because democracy doesn't measure strength. It just counts how many people are on each side of the rope.

With a buying market, Timmy pulls on the rope but Frank does not because Smith's work is freely available. It's a really different story with the ranking market. In this case they both pull on the rope, but Frank pulls harder than Timmy. How much harder does he pull? That's a good question.

Now, if I argue that Timmy should be allowed to vote, then you'll probably disagree. But with a ranking market there's absolutely no problem with Timmy's participation... even if he does have the heart of a champion.

Imagine that we tweak the OP book sorting experiment. We get rid of the voting and compare the spending results of college students versus professors. How differently would the two groups rank the books? Let's increase the granularity and break the college students down according to their year. Would we see any trends? Would seniors rank the Bible higher or lower than freshmen? It would be very problematic if we didn't see any trends. This experiment would essentially allow us to grade that college. If there wasn't a steep upward trend for the Wealth of Nations, then personally I would give that college a very low grade.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#19  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2018 8:38 pm

Xerographica wrote:Timmy is a ten year old who loves Harry Potter. Frank is a fifty year old who loves Adam Smith. In a democracy, Timmy and Frank will have equal influence on the rankings of Potter and Smith. In a buying market though, Timmy will have more influence than Frank, given that all of Smith's works are freely available online. But what about in a ranking market? Chances are good that Frank will outspend Timmy.


I can't find any reason to believe that, in regard to books. Why do you say so?

Xerographica wrote:With a buying market, Timmy pulls on the rope but Frank does not because Smith's work is freely available. It's a really different story with the ranking market. In this case they both pull on the rope, but Frank pulls harder than Timmy. How much harder does he pull? That's a good question.


You appear to be running with the assumption, but I don't know why. One can perfectly legally have watched every Harry Potter film, most of the books sold were to adults (who could legally have borrowed at public libraries, or, like many people do found the films and books illegally online, or indeed legally in some jurisdictions). And yet if you look at book sales (or indeed library borrowing) for recent years you'll still find Harry Potter doing better.

Xerographica wrote:Now, if I argue that Timmy should be allowed to vote, then you'll probably disagree.


On what? Books, no I'd say he should be able to vote.

On a president or prime minister, then yes, because he's too young to have received the education and background information (as well as a certain maturity of cognitive development) required to make a reasonably informed choice.

I make the distinction because I regard ranking books as fundamentally different from organising a society. I suspect this distinction is both important and a significant hurdle for the argument you make in your Opening Post. Which hinges upon (speculation about) a direct analogy between the two.

Xerographica wrote:Imagine that we tweak the OP book sorting experiment. We get rid of the voting and compare the spending results of college students versus professors. How differently would the two groups rank the books?


I don't know. I don't think you know either, so I'm not sure what we would gain by guessing.

I do note that college professors probably don't end up better paid than college graduates though, anyway. Academia does not pay especially well. And that in turn matters as college professors having different tastes to college students in and of itself does not distinguish a causal direction (i.e. is it that those people who become college professors have different tastes and preferences to the general college student population, or is it that becoming a professor affects ones tastes and preferences?).

Xerographica wrote:Let's increase the granularity and break the college students down according to their year. Would we see any trends? Would seniors rank the Bible higher or lower than freshmen? It would be very problematic if we didn't see any trends.


I doubt we would because there's an obvious confound in that popular culture evolves all the time, so the preferred choices of both freshmen and seniors almost certainly changes faster than we could accumulate data to find a trend. And to clarify by trend, I do mean trend as opposed to differences.

Xerographica wrote:This experiment would essentially allow us to grade that college. If there wasn't a steep upward trend for the Wealth of Nations, then personally I would give that college a very low grade.


So that's an opinion based on no information.

You're entitled to it, and I suppose I disagree, since the wealth of nations is a bit of an anachronism and probably of little relevance to anyone who doesn't specialise in the history of economic views. It's the same as mentioning principia. Despite its place in the history of mathematics, it's of essentially nil value to read if you want to become a competent mathematician in the 21st century. Same goes for On the Origin of Species.

But what value does your opinion or mine have in an argument? Perhaps we should take a vote on it.

Either way, the point has quickly been reached at which this isn't about data or evidence.
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Re: Voting VS Spending

#20  Postby Xerographica » May 13, 2018 8:42 pm

Calilasseia wrote:Anyone who thinks money is superior to critical thinking and acting thereupon, has come to the wrong forum.

Consider this passage about critical thinking and error-elimination (EE)...

It is different with primitive man, and with the amoeba. Here there is no critical attitude, and so it happens more often than not that natural selection eliminates a mistaken hypothesis or expectation by eliminating those organisms which hold it, or believe in it. So we can say that the critical or rational method consists in letting our hypotheses die in our stead: it is a case of exosomatic evolution. — Karl Popper, Of Clouds and Clocks

Next consider another passage about EE...

If I am standing quietly, without making any movement, then (according to the physiologists) my muscles are constantly at work, contracting and relaxing in an almost random fashion, but controlled, without my being aware of it, by error-elimination so that every little deviation from my posture is almost at once corrected. So I am kept standing, quietly, by more or less the same method by which an automatic pilot keeps an aircraft steadily on its course. — Karl Popper, Of Clouds and Clocks

Now compare Karl Popper's EE passage to Adam Smith's EE passage...

It is thus that the private interests and passions of individuals naturally dispose them to turn their stocks towards the employments which in ordinary cases are most advantageous to the society. But if from this natural preference they should turn too much of it towards those employments, the fall of profit in them and the rise of it in all others immediately dispose them to alter this faulty distribution. Without any intervention of law, therefore, the private interests and passions of men naturally lead them to divide and distribute the stock of every society among all the different employments carried on in it as nearly as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the interest of the whole society. — Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Do you clearly see and appreciate the relationship between money, EE and critical thinking? Smith certainly didn't believe that money is superior to critical thinking, and neither do I.
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