Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Theory of mind versus a logic of collective actions => opinion dynamics in votes

lets assume there's two kinds of people, and they are about to vote on something

now there's a big campaign about that something and a lot of people give away their likely voting intentions.

lets say some people tend to vote in a way that benefits most people
lets say the other people tend to vote in a way that benefits themselves.

now how does each kind of person interpret which way they should vote?
well, it depends what they think of other people -
if they think the people saying vote x are people that vote to benefit themselves, and they think they are not people of that kind, then they might think they should vote not-x.
if they think people who vote x are people who vote to benefit most people, then maybe they should vote like those people whether they are the same kind, or not.

but now lets assume that the theory-of-mind is correlated with the kind of person and (for the sake of argument) that people that vote to benefit most people are more likely to have a better theory-of-mind (think: empathy if you like).

now the people that vote to please themselves mostly have less of a theory of mind. ironically, they will assume people of "the other kind) are voting to benefit themselves and so will vote against them, even thought this will be voting against their own best interests.

so lets call one bunch of people "metropolitan liberal elite", the other bunch of people "old poorly educated post-industrial poor", and make the vote about "brexit" in the UK.

now you see why the outcome went the way it did, AND how hard it is to have any useful discussion about it afterwards.

should not be too hard to verify this....

Saturday, June 03, 2017

evidence, experts, discipline

takehome: lets end the numbers racket.

I'm sympathetic to having qualitative reasoned debate, but sometimes once can go look at a body of evidence (from experts, yes, really) that includes numbers, but the problem is that it takes time and discipline, and is simply not amenable to snappy soundbites in a bar room fight/real time debate/tv q&a.

one example of a source of information that I read through (but I doubt more than one in a thousand people bothered with) was the civil services 2012 review of the "balance of competences" of the EU - it gives not just figures, but also background and assumptions about figures, for the cost/benefit for every sector in the UK for being a member. In the geek world, we have a passive/aggressive shorthand for articles where people try to summarise a complex, nuanced and contextualized source of information with a "takehome" - we just put tl;dr ("too long; didn't read). here's the document that would have benefitted a lot of people to have read back last year:- 

when it comes to the current discussions, things that influence me are not that Corbyn wouldn't pull the trigger on nukes (how people get hung up on that, when we'd all be already dead by that point), or that May would have a hard time getting a decent deal from the EU for fishermen (all 3 that are left). I get more exercised by the fact that our kids face insane debt before they get their first job, they wont be able to get a decent place to live in the town in which they were bought up, their job prospects are so so despite good quality university qualifications; their pensions don't look too clever; if they get ill, their healthcare looks less dependable; their kids will have even more trouble getting a halfway decent school. etc etc. I get very cross when the academic economists in the USA that built the model that said we needed austerity (nearly 10 years ago) that was followed by much of Europe after the financial fiasco of 2008, admitted that they'd made an elementary mistake in an Excel spreadsheet, so the result was exactly the opposite of what they'd been flying around the world schmoozing politicans of all colour and odour. see

hmm so i like experts, but I also don't like experts......oh well..

really what it comes down to is adequate discipline being applied in the right context - a qualiative reasoned position in a face-to-face debate, but in a written position, careful citation of data, assumptions, context and so on....

Saturday, March 25, 2017

beyond ironic

so someome ased me yesterday why i havn't updated this blog (which unlike the other two blogs i run, is purely rant&cant [as opposed to computer science or internet related]).

well it has proved impossible to outdo the spectacle of UK-US politics and news - it just is beyond comment.