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Author Topic: Better mathematics for group decision making
LetterRip
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I think that purely democratic voting is flawed for some decision making processes due to two limitations

1) Experts/Highly competent folks are allocated equal weight to moderately knowledgable and the completely ignorant

2) Binary Yes/No votes don't take into account degree of certainty. Ie if I think it is a brilliant Idea, than I obviously vote in favor of it. If you are unsure how good an idea is, or just don't have the knowledge to make an informed decision - you might vote for it or might vote against it.

Some ideas I have for this are

1) Allowing vote weighting - ie if a group can decided that someone is an 'expert' in certain areas, then that individuals votes can be allocated additional weight.

2) Allowing vote proxying - once could allocate their decision to be the same as whoever I designate as a proxy (or group of individuals as proxys). Proxying could be gross or fine grained - ie i could have one person/group proxys for all decisions, or they could say specify a doctor for medical decisions, and an military officer for defense decisions.

3) Use likert scale for votes - so say use 3 or 5 stones of different color. A white is a +1, a grey is a 0, a black is a -2. Or using 5 stones 2,1,0,-1,-2. Then have some agreed threshold value to pass.

How 2 and 3 could work in practice in small groups - for simple proxying and likert scale.

Each member is given 3 stones, and they can pass those stones to another member for each vote. (For the proxying). Then a vote is held and each person that has stones can put in their vote and their proxy votes of the appropriate color.

(Or simpler, each is given 2 stones of same color, can put in zero for no, 1 for maybe, 2 for yes).

I think that representing uncertainty and expertise in this manner should likely lead to better quality decisions in general.

Thoughts?

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Wayward Son
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The obvious problem with #1 is who decides if a person is an "expert?"

Just imagine what would happen if Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh got to decide who were scientific and political "experts," for example. [Eek!]

What works about one man-one vote is that each person bears personal responsibility for his or her vote. Granting others more power shifts the responsibility over to them.

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Pyrtolin
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That's part of the point of representative democracy. Instead of making everyone have to become an expert of every issue, we specifically proxy that responsibility to elected representatives whose primary duty is to either become directly familiar with such issues or to employ staff members who are sufficiently knowledgeable to advise them. It is, essentially, the vote proxying that you suggest.

On the other hand, there's a lot to be said for changing the way we vote for those representatives to allow for better expression of preferences so that all elections don't boil down to voting for the least objectionable guy that's likely to win.

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LetterRip
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Wayward Son,

quote:
The obvious problem with #1 is who decides if a person is an "expert?"
One of my initial formulations was to put a maximum limit on what percentage of total voting one individual could control. Also that one could only designate an individual within ones immediate circle of freinds or family. So each person designates their own experts from their own circle of friends and family. In turn that person they delegate to can delegate within their circle.

quote:
Just imagine what would happen if Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh got to decide who were scientific and political "experts," for example. [Eek!]

What works about one man-one vote is that each person bears personal responsibility for his or her vote. Granting others more power shifts the responsibility over to them.

That actually already happens. Rush tells his followers that so and so is an expert on the environment, economics, etc. His followers base their views and votes upon his statements. Dick Cheney was a major part in the selection of who were experts on military and foreign policy.

So we already have your nightmare scenario.

quote:

What works about one man-one vote is that each person bears personal responsibility for his or her vote. Granting others more power shifts the responsibility over to them.

How can someone be responsible for their vote if it is literally impossible to be informed enough to cast that vote optimally? Delegating responsibility when you realize you lack the time to get enough information is the responsible action. Failing to do so is irresponsible.

quote:
That's part of the point of representative democracy. Instead of making everyone have to become an expert of every issue, we specifically proxy that responsibility to elected representatives whose primary duty is to either become directly familiar with such issues or to employ staff members who are sufficiently knowledgeable to advise them. It is, essentially, the vote proxying that you suggest.
My vote proxying methodology is vastly superior in a number of methods. 1) It can be as coarse or fine grained as desired. I'm more expert on most areas of policy than any current politician. So I can vote on those areas. 2) Running for office isn't required - so it doesn't turn into 'who can buy the most publicity and promise the most ponys'. 3) It can be delegated to individuals that you personally know and trust the character of. Not based on some distorted image of politicking and media favoritism.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
That actually already happens. Rush tells his followers that so and so is an expert on the environment, economics, etc. His followers base their views and votes upon his statements. Dick Cheney was a major part in the selection of who were experts on military and foreign policy.

[Roll Eyes]

quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:

I think that representing uncertainty and expertise in this manner should likely lead to better quality decisions in general.

Thoughts?

What it comes down to is that you see the way the winds are blowing and you're grasping at any straw that can keep your ideology on life support. You don't want better quality decisions, you want your decisions to be forced on others and you think this is the scheme to do it. [Roll Eyes]
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LetterRip
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G2,

the example was showing that if what he felt was a concern was actually a concern then it was kind of a pointless concern. Experts are already appointed as experts by non experts. I used Cheney and Rush as examples because he used them.

That said the expert weighting is just another form of the proxy method. Ie appointing my doctor as my proxy on medicine and research related votes is just reweighting his voice to two votes, and me to zero. One could in theory allow fractional weighting so I want half my voting power on the subject to be via my proxy and the other half via me.


quote:
What it comes down to is that you see the way the winds are blowing and you're grasping at any straw that can keep your ideology on life support.
WTF are you talking about? What particular way do you think 'the winds are blowing' that I'd find idealogically objectionable? Asside from corruption, corporate kleptocracy, and really dumb long term economic decisions.

quote:
You don't want better quality decisions, you want your decisions to be forced on others and you think this is the scheme to do it.
In what way do you think a more representative democracy would 'force my decisions' on others or be contrary to better quality decisions?

[ August 27, 2010, 07:10 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
I think that purely democratic voting is flawed for some decision making processes due to two limitations

1) Experts/Highly competent folks are allocated equal weight to moderately knowledgable and the completely ignorant

2) Binary Yes/No votes don't take into account degree of certainty. Ie if I think it is a brilliant Idea, than I obviously vote in favor of it. If you are unsure how good an idea is, or just don't have the knowledge to make an informed decision - you might vote for it or might vote against it.

Some ideas I have for this are

1) Allowing vote weighting - ie if a group can decided that someone is an 'expert' in certain areas, then that individuals votes can be allocated additional weight.

2) Allowing vote proxying - once could allocate their decision to be the same as whoever I designate as a proxy (or group of individuals as proxys). Proxying could be gross or fine grained - ie i could have one person/group proxys for all decisions, or they could say specify a doctor for medical decisions, and an military officer for defense decisions.

3) Use likert scale for votes - so say use 3 or 5 stones of different color. A white is a +1, a grey is a 0, a black is a -2. Or using 5 stones 2,1,0,-1,-2. Then have some agreed threshold value to pass.

How 2 and 3 could work in practice in small groups - for simple proxying and likert scale.

Each member is given 3 stones, and they can pass those stones to another member for each vote. (For the proxying). Then a vote is held and each person that has stones can put in their vote and their proxy votes of the appropriate color.

(Or simpler, each is given 2 stones of same color, can put in zero for no, 1 for maybe, 2 for yes).

I think that representing uncertainty and expertise in this manner should likely lead to better quality decisions in general.

Thoughts?

Vote weighting is a terrible, terrible idea. While I agree that some people are much more informed, impartial, and qualified on various matters than other people, I really don't think that a democratically elected government should have the power to decide whose votes go in the clever pile and whose votes go in the dumb pile. It'd just open the gates to vote-weight gerrymandering, where entrenched representatives of certain interests game the system so that the votes of their supporters are worth more and more while the votes of demographics which don't support them are downgraded.
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Jordan
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G2, your contribution was two "rolls eyes" smileys and a motive inference. This reveals a lot more of how you would like to construe LetterRip than it does of the real LetterRip's character.
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Chael
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I think the idea of having more possible choices for proposition-voting is a good idea. In fact, I would like to have it when we vote for candidates as well. The 'five stones' method would be best, I think.

It may or may not signficantly change the results of an election, but it would certainly give us more data in the aftermath. It would be possible to know how much of the public was strongly behind a certain candidate or initiative, as opposed to the number of people who are sort of kind of in favor. If nothing else, 'the public is overwhelmingly behind me on this' would have actual meaning.
-----------
Like most of the other people who have offered their opinions on this one, I do not agree that vote weighting is a good idea. Perhaps it would be a better one if 1) people actually had much of a say in how their government was run in the first place (thus making it more germane), and 2) we had some way to test with complete accuracy and honesty how knowledgeable a person was on a given issue (or on all the fields which intersect in that issue).

As it is, I don't believe that #2 is possible, and while I would like #1 to be true, I believe it is only slightly true on the state level (depending on which state you're in), and of course not true at all on the federal level.

My preferred fix on this issue is simple: encourage people to not vote (or to vote our middle stone, which gives 0 points) if they aren't confident they know enough on a given issue to make a good choice. If they think they do know enough, then they'll vote one way or another, and yes, having a democracy does mean they get a voice if they want to use it.

I agree that we already have informal vote-proxying. I don't see the need to make it formal.

[ August 28, 2010, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: Chael ]

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LetterRip
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It is weird that people focus on this as a public elections when I specifically focused on the small group decision making. (I have suggested similar ideas in the past for public elections though).

This idea is sort of focused on 'the colony' where you may want to have group decision making if a leader that everyone trusts can't be agreed on, or if you want a strong leader but without absolute power over decisions.

It also work for family decisions where it is supposed to be a group decision but where the head of household gets the most say.

So you give the leader a weighted vote of 3 or 5 stones (ie he is the 'expert' that has been given greater representation by vote of the group, not an appointed expert). Thus the leaders vote carrys more weight but if the group as a whole decides he is wrong, then it can be overridden if enough people strongly oppose it.

I should also point out to G2 that my idea of using Likert scales for voting was something I presented in my first week or two at ornery more than 10 years ago. Who knew that I'd planned for the 'winds to be blowing' in the wrong direction 10 plus years in advance.

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Chael
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Sorry LetterRip. When you use the words "democratic voting," I think of elections--because most other decision making processes I have encountered are not democratic. (A family with children, for example, will generally not be democratic: a family without children will also not be democratic, but rather consensus-building, as will be, for practical purposes, many roommate situations.) Your most recent post was helpful in that it outlined the kinds of situations in which you would actually like to put this into practice. Got it.

For the purposes of post-apocalyptic survival, I agree that your method is good. The group is likely small enough that the capabilities of each member will be known by all the others, and it has a common purpose--that is, staying alive. There are still likely to be interpersonal.. bumps (not everyone will agree on who should have the vote weighted in their favor), but I would hope that wishing to stay alive would be sufficient motivation to be honest on the matter. How people perceive the voting mechanism matters in this situation because someone who doesn't agree a decision was wisely or fairly reached may try to sabotoge it, and generally the stakes are too high in these scenerios for that to not matter. Sure, you can banish the trouble-makers (or kill them, depending on which seems safest), but by that point your water might be contaminated or your crops dead as a doornail.

I find the idea of a family situation where matters are actually /voted/ on to be odd.

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LetterRip
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Chael,

where to go to dinner, where to go on family vacation, what game to play.

In my family we occassionaly did 'voting' on things like that.

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Chael
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What was your voting process? [Smile]
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Rallan
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Hell if it's for small group stuff I'm gonna reject the idea on the grounds that having a formal voting process (let alone one where everybody's sat down and worked out whose vote is worth what by ranking each other on their expertise in the matter at hand) is just anal and encourages pointless competition and general butthurtness where there doesn't need to be any. Small groups are still running on an intimate and personal level, and group decision making can easily be managed without any formal processes because the organisation just isn't big enough to have to guard against institutionalised bad ideas.
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Chael
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Depends on how large the group is, Rallan. Six or seven people with different opinions? Where the subject is survival, and so everyone's interested in the outcome? Yeah, there needs to be an attempt to build a consensus, but sometimes there is no clear emerging answer and a decision needs to be made. If you formalize the decision-making process, people can believe the answer reached has some authority.

Of course, if they have a 6-sided die, I guess they could just roll for it. [Wink]

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Rallan
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People through the ages have shown a remarkable ability to survive without having to invent a complicated bureaucracy with arcane voting rules every time more than five of them get together. Except in extremely artificial decisions where big stakes are won or lost on the back of formal decisions (eg on a reality TV game show), the stuff that needs to get done will be done and the decisions that need to be made will be made.
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Chael
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quote:
Originally posted by Rallan:
...without having to invent a complicated bureaucracy with arcane voting rules every time more than five of them get together.

You've made a number of pronouncements which are not in fact obvious from evidence. Were this thought-experiment worthy, I would ask you if you were interested in researching situations where small groups of people were stranded without recourse to their usual level of technology--shipwrecks or somesuch--to discover how they said they made decisions. I could do some research of my own and we could compare notes.

However, given the tone of your last post, I suspect you are more interested in snark than in thought-experiments. So: you're wrong. Nyah. [Smile]

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:
G2, your contribution was two "rolls eyes" smileys and a motive inference. This reveals a lot more of how you would like to construe LetterRip than it does of the real LetterRip's character.

Well Jordan, take a look at the points I referenced. The first was the implication that conservatives are merely following orders, marching in lockstep with the commands delivered via talk radio. Do you think such an irrational and ignorant comment as that deserves more than a roll of the eyes? [Roll Eyes]

The second point I address is the voting ideal LetterRip proposes. Read it again and think about what it is. He's proposing a voting scheme based on the appeal to authority - he wants to take a logical fallacy approach to ruling the ignorant masses. In a truly Orwellian ideal, he tells us this would be "a more representative democracy".

And Jordan, your contirbution was smiple ad hominem (logical fallcy rules this forum) with no thought behind it which reveals a lot more about you than it does me.

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LetterRip
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G2,

quote:
The first was the implication that conservatives are merely following orders, marching in lockstep with the commands delivered via talk radio. Do you think such an irrational and ignorant comment as that deserves more than a roll of the eyes?
I said that the influence of those individuals already 'weights the votes' of individuals which they favor not 'voting lockstep'. Do you think that the opinions of economists and other 'experts' which influential individuals quote and endorse is not increased by their endorsement? If you draw dumb conclusions and then attribute your faulty reasoning to me, and then make a lame response based upon your conclusion says things about your reasoning skills, not about my 'agenda'.

quote:
He's proposing a voting scheme based on the appeal to authority - he wants to take a logical fallacy approach to ruling the ignorant masses. In a truly Orwellian ideal, he tells us this would be "a more representative democracy".
Again you are drawing conclusions that are not in any way related to my proposal. There is no 'appeal to authority'.

Perhaps you should reread the proposal?

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LetterRip
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Rallan,

small groups tend to be horrible at decision making. They usually will end up doing whatever the most dominant personality wants to do, even if it is obviously wrong to most of the group.

One area I think the likert scale style voting would be really useful would be jury decisions. Where degrees of strength of view might be useful for informing sentencing guidelines.

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Jordan
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quote:
G2:
Well Jordan, take a look at the points I referenced. The first was the implication that conservatives are merely following orders, marching in lockstep with the commands delivered via talk radio.

LR didn't say that. To take it as an implication requires quite a bit of stretching.

quote:
He's proposing a voting scheme based on the appeal to authority - he wants to take a logical fallacy approach to ruling the ignorant masses.
LR seems more concerned about decisions in smaller groups, not national elections.

Your invocation of "appeal to authority" is incorrect. Formally, the fallacy of argument from authority consists of claiming that a specific statement is true by virtue of the person saying it. LR has not claimed that individuals deemed authoritative are necessarily correct; he described a mechanism by which individuals and groups can voluntarily defer to someone whom they consider better informed.

I think that people do this often anyway. For example, most people give some weight to what their doctors say about their health, on the basis that an intelligent person who has spent ten years studying and practicing medicine is probably better equipped than they are to make determinations on human health. This is not the same as accepting that doctors are infallible, which would be fallacious.

quote:
And Jordan, your contirbution was smiple ad hominem (logical fallcy rules this forum) with no thought behind it which reveals a lot more about you than it does me.
You made an assertion about why LR was proposing this. This tells us what you want us to believe about LR's motivations, but it does not tell us what LR's actual motivations are, G2!

I did think you were a little opaque, and was hoping to prompt you to explain your reasoning a bit more in response (which you have [Smile] ) so that it could be discussed. I don't see how what I wrote was ad hominem, since I simply summarised what you said without saying anything personal about you.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:
quote:
G2:
Well Jordan, take a look at the points I referenced. The first was the implication that conservatives are merely following orders, marching in lockstep with the commands delivered via talk radio.

LR didn't say that. To take it as an implication requires quite a bit of stretching.

Doesn't require any, read what he wrote.


quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:
quote:
He's proposing a voting scheme based on the appeal to authority - he wants to take a logical fallacy approach to ruling the ignorant masses.
LR seems more concerned about decisions in smaller groups, not national elections.

Your invocation of "appeal to authority" is incorrect. Formally, the fallacy of argument from authority consists of claiming that a specific statement is true by virtue of the person saying it. LR has not claimed that individuals deemed authoritative are necessarily correct; he described a mechanism by which individuals and groups can voluntarily defer to someone whom they consider better informed.

No, it's dead on. Torture the definition all you want. It is what it is.


quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:

quote:
And Jordan, your contirbution was smiple ad hominem (logical fallcy rules this forum) with no thought behind it which reveals a lot more about you than it does me.
You made an assertion about why LR was proposing this. This tells us what you want us to believe about LR's motivations, but it does not tell us what LR's actual motivations are, G2!
Yes it does, Jordan!
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LetterRip
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G2,

you repeating yourself doesn't make you right. It is clear that you don't understand what an 'appeal to authority' is, or perhaps are deliberately ignoring its actual definition to try and conflate it with the new G2 definition. Jordan explained quite well how voluntary deferral is different from an appeal to authority.

Nor does you asserting you are correct lend any weight to your argument - this isn't a site for 2 year olds - repeatedly going 'uh huh' till someone gets bored of you doesn't win arguments, it just makes you appear to have the inability to express yourself or make cogent arguments.

When you show yourself unable to concede a point when it is clear you are wrong, you increase the odds that your argument will be discounted or ignored when you might have a legitimate point.

[ August 29, 2010, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Jordan
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quote:
G2:
Doesn't require any, read what he wrote.

Perhaps we won't agree, since we are obviously taking very different readings from the same text. I'll concede that it might have been wiser of LR, whose political alignment seems at least somewhat left-of-centre, to use left-wing politicians to make his point. Perhaps this is why you read it as implying lockstep obedience while I did not.

quote:
G2:
quote:
Jordan:
Your invocation of "appeal to authority" is incorrect.

No, it's dead on. Torture the definition all you want. It is what it is.
We're talking past each other! [Smile] How are you defining "appeal to authority"? I understand it to mean an argument of the form "Y claims X; Y is considered an authority; therefore X." I'd further say that although it is a formal fallacy when formulated as such, it can be informally acceptable under circumstances where Y's expertise is legitimately germane and established, and X is generally accepted by others holding a similar level of verifiable expertise.

quote:
G2:
quote:
Jordan:
You made an assertion about why LR was proposing this. This tells us what you want us to believe about LR's motivations, but it does not tell us what LR's actual motivations are, G2!

Yes it does, Jordan!
Well, I suppose there's no harm in continuing the theme of argumentum ad verecundiam. [Smile] You aren't sufficiently established as an expert on LR's motivations that I feel obliged to accept your conclusions. All I know from your statement is that this is how you wish characterise them, and without assurances of sufficient authority I do not consider myself any better informed.

I don't want to belabour this. Almost everyone draws conclusions about people's motivations fairly frequently. I do, you do, LR does. Heck, G2, I'm sure I recall making comments about your motivations. But I see no reason to believe that any of us knows enough to expect others to give our opinions about each other much weight. That's the other 50% of what I was aiming to get across.

[ August 29, 2010, 06:42 PM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Chael:
quote:
Originally posted by Rallan:
...without having to invent a complicated bureaucracy with arcane voting rules every time more than five of them get together.

You've made a number of pronouncements which are not in fact obvious from evidence. Were this thought-experiment worthy, I would ask you if you were interested in researching situations where small groups of people were stranded without recourse to their usual level of technology--shipwrecks or somesuch--to discover how they said they made decisions. I could do some research of my own and we could compare notes.

However, given the tone of your last post, I suspect you are more interested in snark than in thought-experiments. So: you're wrong. Nyah. [Smile]

It's more that I'm not a big fan of having more authority than is strictly necessary. Large organisations need some sort of rules because the potential for human nature to screw everything up increases exponentially once you start introducing more people into the mix. Small organisations should be encouraged to wing it as much as possible though, because you really don't need an abundance of rules when everyone knows what the group's goals are and what the personalities and strengths of everyone else in the group are.
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Chael
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As much as possible, Rallan? No argument there. In fact, I have no desire to argue with anything in your most recent post.

So do you think that a formalized decision-making process is a) often necessary for small groups, b) rarely necessary for small groups, or c) never necessary for small groups? If the last choice, I would be interested in your reasoning. If the middle choice, I would be interested in knowing what kind of hypothetical situations you could see needing it. Let us for a moment remove the spectre of artificial dangers (i.e., reality television shows) from our discussion. [Wink]

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