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The Problem with Group Decisions

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Written by   307
8 months ago

Westerners, for the last few centuries, have asserted that democracy is the best form of government. Comparatively, democracies have greatly exceeded any other current form of government in terms of human prosperity and flourishing. Although, that can be directly attributed to the economic freedom of those societies, rather than any other factor.

However, empirical results compared to existing forms of governance do not imply that democracy is the ideal way to run a society. There have been many past attempts to theorize about the ideal society. None of them, to my knowledge, examined why democracy is comparatively good, and what its flaws are.

The reason is that each choice made by an individual communicates valuable information to the rest of society. This information, in aggregate, improves resource allocation, and improves the lives of everyone within a society. Democracy, as a side effect of voting, tends to give the majority of people access to actions they would most likely make.

“The best government is that which governs least”

People should take this to heart as it has a real impact on the gross production of society.

However, I am not so radical as to believe no organization is required within society. Indeed, we have no examples of an a-governmental society doing anything meaningful. It need not take a vivid imagination to understand that such an anarchic situation quickly devolves into bodies of people who monopolize violence.

Under the assumption that government is necessary, it makes sense to examine the flaws in our current forms of democracy and possibly revise it. The primary flaw that is often cited is that the majority of people really have no business making decisions that could impact everyone else. Simple voting does not actually aggregate the best information available, but simply enacts laws based on the opinions of the majority. The best decisions tend to be made by outliers.

There is the obvious problem with democracy, is that all desired votes cannot be called. If so, we’d all be voting continuously and nothing practical would be done. There has to be a filter placed on what things can even be called to a vote. But how do you fairly decide what can be voted on?

Aggregating yes/no votes over a large body of people destroys useful information about what would most benefit society. Minority opinions are essentially discarded, along with the information which led them to hold those opinions. We assume that the majority has the “right viewpoint,” but contrarians often are left laughing last.

Aside from destroying information, the majority for any given vote may be made of different cohorts of the population. This can lead to a situation where majority group preferences can contradict each other. This problem is called the Condorcet paradox

Finally, for most voters, the cost of the time required to participate in voting actually outweighs any expected benefit to them. This is documented as the Downs paradox.

In short, democracy gives citizens the illusion of control --  something libertarians are very familiar with. It keeps society largely complacent by diverting their attention to mechanisms which largely have no impact. This is a Good Thing™ as it obviates violent upheavals which do not benefit anyone. Stability is often preferable to an angry mob.

However, there are ways to consider the opinions of everyone in an efficient way. These mechanisms require the use of numerical values which can be summed and averaged. No particular person's opinion is discarded, even outliers -- although the validity of their opinion may not be able to be appropriately weighted. An example of this might be: “How much money should the government spend on maintaining a military?”

The answer to such a question is not a binary yes/no, and significantly more information can be retained.

Maybe the best form of government is for the citizens to simply decide on a tax rate, and where to allocate funds? The economic incentives may possibly cause everything else to fall out appropriately.

The society which can most efficiently aggregate and make use of the collective knowledge of its citizens will easily outcompete and outperform anything else. We should look for better ways to make informed group decisions.

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Written by   307
8 months ago
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Comments

Many minds to develop a multitude of ideas, leading to a high quality solution. One of the great advantage for group decision. The decision makers to give greater weight to the information that is inferred from the behavior of the higher ranked other person. Unity is important to this matter... And it is only my opinion...

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8 months ago

True looking for a better way can help because its the same way an official government works and i dont think rights are equal. If only we can brainstorm we can have a decentralized democracy more improved and fair

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8 months ago

Flipstarter and read.cash I think are very good ways for action with meaningful information without the need for democracy rule.

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8 months ago

After many years, I have decided, that the quality of the governor, makes the quality of life, for his people. Democracy has the advantage to change the person.

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8 months ago

Indeed. Though, I am suggesting there are better mechanisms of voting.

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8 months ago

It need not take a vivid imagination to understand that such an anarchic situation quickly devolves into bodies of people who monopolize violence.

a state?

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8 months ago

Exactly. Though, I am convinced that with cryptocurrencies you can have a government that is not a state. (e.g. without needing to rely on violence)

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8 months ago

Group decisions in my opinion still the best protocol anyone should exercise, that's the ideal. It may not be the best way if we want efficiency, fast, and reliable results, but we can always improve and learn from its lessons.

We saw how a strong and populist leader rise to power even to the countries who champion democracy because the majority of people are sick and tired of the flaws of that system. They want order, stability and fast decision making even to the expense of giving up that democracy in exchange of results.

Maybe group decisions can decide to let a "one man" to run everything but not giving up the power to make the decision to overthrow that man if its deem necessary.

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8 months ago

Group decisions in my opinion still the best protocol anyone should exercise, that's the ideal. It may not be the best way if we want efficiency, fast, and reliable results, but we can always improve and learn from its lessons.

I'm not suggesting they aren't. Though, I am suggesting that there are better ways for groups to make decisions.

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8 months ago

Your words are too deep for my small brains as a young boy .l just don't understand . I follow but I can't

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8 months ago

please leave room for the possibility that you are not the problem.

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8 months ago

Agreed. There are always two parties in an exchange that could improve.

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8 months ago

I don't know why but you are too good to me but my comments don't add value can you tell me something ? Because I am lost ..

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8 months ago

I tried to tell you you should trust yourself and your own thinking more. If you don't understand something then there are at least 2 possiblities: maybe you just don't understand because you lack some knowledge or capacity to follow OR it could be that what is written actually does NOT make sense and the author is the one in the wrong. It can also be the case that the author does not do a good job of explaining while what he says is correct. The key is to find a balance here... you seem to err on the side of blaming your own incompetence for the failed communication, probably because you are young.

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7 months ago

I actually have no knowledge about it. Can you help me with a source to understand fr scratch. I will be greatful and yes I am young also maybe that is why I don't know either

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7 months ago

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8 months ago